Rochester, NY —The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded more than $4.45 million  to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) to establish DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students. The award is the largest NSF award in RIT’s history.

DeafTech will become one of approximately 40 Advanced Technological Education National Centers of Excellence (ATE) around the United States. DeafTEC’s center will be unique, as it is the first ATE  established to serve individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The mission of DeafTEC is to become a resource for high schools and community colleges across the country that educate deaf and hard-of-hearing students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related programs and for employers hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

Through a comprehensive Web site, DeafTEC will aim to serve as a clearinghouse for information related to technical education and technician careers for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, including career awareness materials, teaching strategies for improving student access to learning, developmental math and English curricula, and information for employers to help them provide a more accessible workplace.

“The goal of this national center is to successfully integrate more deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals into the workplace, especially in highly skilled technician jobs where deaf and hard-of-hearing workers are currently underrepresented and underutilized,” said NTID President Gerry Buckley. “DeafTEC will provide them, as well as their teachers, counselors, employers, and co-workers, with the resources that will help them succeed, both in the classroom and on the job.”

DeafTEC will establish model centers within California, Texas and Florida. These regional centers will create partnerships among high schools, community colleges, and industry to improve access to technological education and employment for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

The initial regional DeafTEC partners are:


  • California School for the Deaf, Riverside
  • Pierce College, Woodland Hills
  • Cisco Systems Inc, San Jose
  • Solar Turbines Inc, San Diego
  • The Dow Chemical Company, Hayward and La Mirada


  • Florida School for the Deaf & the Blind, St. Augustine
  • St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg
  • ConMed Linvatec Corporation, Largo
  • BioDerm Inc, North Largo
  • Bovie Medical Corporation, Clearwater


  • Texas School for the Deaf, Austin
  • Austin Community College, Austin
  • The Dow Chemical Company, Houston, Bay Port, Texas City, Deer Park/LaPorte, Freeport and Seadrift

“DeafTEC will impact the knowledge and attitudes of high school teachers, community college faculty, employers, and the deaf and hard-of-hearing students themselves in terms of the educational and employment opportunities and options available,” says Donna Lange, an associate professor in NTID’s Information and Computing Studies Department, who will be leading the grant and serving as the center director.

The center will also provide professional development experiences to improve the instructional expertise of high school and community college teachers in STEM subjects to provide greater access to learning for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, as well as all students in the classroom, particularly other students with language difficulties.

Lange and her colleagues plan to have the Web site created and live sometime in 2012. For more information, send an email to [email protected].

SOURCE: Rochester Institute of Technology