Raja Kushalnagar, an instructional faculty member in NTID’s Information and Computing Studies Department, has received a $20,000 stipend to develop policy and design recommendations for inclusive virtual peer communities for students with sensory disabilities. The award, from the Time Warner Research Program, aims to increase understanding of the political and social benefits and challenges that face digital technologies in the home, office, classroom and community. Kushalnagar expects to complete his paper in May.

“I have experienced first-hand the effect of policy and laws on boosting access through technology, such as video relay service,” he says. “I am interested in advocating for full access through accessible and inclusive technology.”

Kushalnagar plans to enhance participation of students with sensory disabilities in science, technology, engineering and math.

“I’ll look at factors that influence participation in online communities and to develop policy mechanisms to address these factors, so as to boost student preparation through mentoring, peer contacts, networking and enhanced information accessibility,” he says.

The project will inform policymakers and industry stakeholders about ways to promote outreach to marginalized populations through technology and mentoring.

The Time Warner Cable Research Program on Digital Communications awards stipends to foster research dedicated to increasing understanding of the benefits and challenges facing the future of digital technologies in the home, office, classroom and community.

“We are pleased we continue to attract the best minds working on communications, media and technology policy issues and are particularly proud to be funding research in one of our home communities, in Rochester, N.Y.,” says Fernando Laguarda, vice president for External Affairs and Policy Counselor at Time Warner Cable.

Students in NTID’s Information and Computing Studies Department had the opportunity to take Capstone courses designed to give students “world-of-work” project experiences before they graduate.

Two of the courses were taught by Professor Jim Mallory. Students  performed a variety of projects including recovery of hard drive data and repair of laptops, research and installation of multiple kinds of remote cameras as well documenting their process and results.

The largest project for this group involved researching, designing, purchasing and setting up a nine-camera sytem at Scottsville Animal Adoption Center. Three of these cameras are used for the public to view animals that are ready to be adopted and two are used by the doctor to remotely monitor sick animals via his smart phone.

Four of the cameras were set up for security purposes both inside and outside. This camera system included setting up a router, three cameras using wireless technology and six cameras which transimitted video information over the 120V electrical wires.

Dr. Stephen Berghash, owner of Scottsville Veterinary Adoptions, was elated with the outcome of this project and was very grateful for the work done by the students. “This made my business much more efficient and made my work life much easier. I love being able to just look on my Android to monitor the pets and my business,” he said.

Commodore Plastics, of Bloomfield, N.Y., and Alpine Software of Pittsford, N.Y., purchased 3-Dimensional printers which were assembled by six students in Thomas Simpson’s Capstone course. The students built the complex units and gave presentations how to use them. The printers were then given to the companies that donated their parts.

“We’re thankful to these companies for supporting our students,” Simpson said. “Their contributions offered an excellent learning opportunity with true application of their skills.”

Mallory said the goals for these projects include furthering students’ critical and innovative thinking skills, ability to work as a team and developing technical writing, group problem solving and interpersonal skills.

Photo by Mark Benjamin, NTID

Three awards totaling more than $7 million that will help educate and employ deaf and hard-of-hearing students and their teachers were acknowledged in a ceremony in NTID’s Dyer Arts Center Monday.

“We’re here today to recognize the project teams that have spearheaded three multi-million dollar awards benefitting the deaf community,” said NTID President Gerry Buckley. “The principle investigators and co-PIs whose vision helped create these programs contribute to RIT’s and NTID’s increasing role as a national leader in education of people who are deaf and hard of hearing.”

Provost Jeremy Haefner also congratulated those involved with the awards.

“I am particularly impressed with the collaborative nature of the PIs and co-PIs honored today, and with the tradition of leadership in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students that has been established here. It is a tradition that will prosper and grow.”

Ryne Raffaelle, RIT’s Vice President for Research and Associate Provost, described the significance of each of the grant projects for RIT/NTID and the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. “Obviously this is quite a momentous occasion,” he said. "Their accomplishments speak volumes to the type of innovative leadership that occurs on this campus on a daily basis."

The three major grants received by NTID faculty and staff last year are:

  • DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, $4.45 million: Funded through the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program, the center will provide STEM-related resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing students and their teachers and counselors in high schools and community colleges, and for employers hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to successfully integrate them into the workplace in highly skilled technician jobs in which these individuals are currently underrepresented and underutilized. DeafTEC also 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. Donna Lange, PI; Gary Long and Myra Pelz, co-PIs.
  • Deaf STEM Community Alliance, $1.6 million: Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research in Disability Education program, this alliance of NTID’s Center on Access Technology with Cornell University and Camden County College in New Jersey, will improve the retention and graduation rates of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in STEM majors and facilitate the transition of deaf and hard-of-hearing students to STEM baccalaureate and graduate programs as well as to employment. Lisa Elliot, PI; James DeCaro and E. William Clymer, co-PIs.
  • Preparing STEM and Minority Teachers of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, $1.2 million: Funded by the Department of Education, this project will address the critical shortage of teachers who are qualified both to teach deaf and hard-of-hearing students and to teach them a specific content area, especially mathematics and science. Additionally, the project will address the shortage of teachers from African American, Latino, Native American and Asian American backgrounds. Gerry Bateman, PI; Christopher Kurz and Susan Lane-Outlaw, co-PIs.

“I have no doubt that we will be attending more events like this as NTID continues to innovate and lead the way in educating deaf and hard-of-hearing students for many years to come,” Haefner said.

Representatives of several Congressional delegates attended, including those from the offices of Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Louise Slaughter, Rep. Tom Reed, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle and Rep. Kathleen Hochul.