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Students Who are Deaf are Making Their Voices Heard

By: Art Morgan
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January is the season for new year’s resolutions. If you are an educator, your resolution may be to better prepare your students for the workforce in 2013.  If you are a college senior, your resolution might be to land your first real job — not a trivial task in the current economy. Imagine how much harder that task must seem if you are deaf.

But if you are a student who is Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) your outlook is substantially rosier, thanks to innovative and dedicated educators, forward-thinking employers, and the many alumni of RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf program, who have proven that they can make a real impact at employers like IBM, Microsoft, the EPA, and many others.  You can read about many of the success stories of RIT/NTID alumni and faculty here.

The RIT/NTID program is unique in that it gives students who are Deaf and hard of hearing the best of two worlds: on one hand, they have a community of over 1,300 students who are Deaf on campus with dedicated faculty and staff who specialize in education for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, while on the other hand they are part of a large research university with more than 14,000 undergraduate students from around the world, allowing them to take classes with hearing students and gain skills that will serve them well in careers after college.

Students who are Deaf and hard of hearing at other colleges and universities don’t always have access to such a robust support network, but times are changing. Thanks to the tireless efforts of accessibility advocates and outspoken students, the options for college students who are Deaf are expanding. The use of lecture capture systems has been expanding for years, but it was not until relatively recently that campuses began to realize that adding closed captioning to recorded lectures is an effective way to provide access to students who are Deaf or hard of hearing.  As faculty, staff, and students at Portland Community College explain in the video below, when deaf students are provided access to captioned versions of the educational material, they can truly become involved in the classroom, and in the world.

2012 was a great year for Automatic Sync, working with innovative educators like RIT and their video platform partner Ensemble Video.  It was also exciting to work with community colleges like Portland Community College, which continues to push the envelope in their efforts to make high-quality education accessible and available to everyone.  We pledge to continue such efforts in 2013.

So if you are an educator or an employer, make a serious resolution this year to follow the examples set by RIT, Portland Community College, and the many employers of students from such institutions.  And if you are a student, and you happen to be Deaf or hard of hearing, make a resolution to make your voice heard, both on campus and in the job market.  If you are passionate and persistent, like the many who have gone before you, you too will make your mark on the world in 2013.