Statement in support of full language acquisition for D/deaf children from RIT President Bill Destler and NTID President Gerry Buckley

Story Highlights: 
  • NTID applauds the efforts of individuals and organizations who are seeking to contribute in meaningful and constructive ways to this growing body of evidence-based research designed to enhance the educational success of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
  • To the best of our knowledge, there is no credible evidence-based research that suggests that exposing D/deaf and hard-of-hearing children to American Sign Language from infancy will harm their ability to acquire English (which is essential to employment success in the workplace), or for that matter to hinder the development of spoken language. 
  • NTID remains a place that is open to D/deaf and hard-of-hearing students from all communication preferences and backgrounds. 
  • NTID continues to be a place where our students can discover their identities as D/deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals without feeling pressured to conform to any expressed communication ideal. 

 

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a college of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), was created 50 years ago with a specific mission to enhance the employment in technical fields of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in this nation (we use D/deaf to recognize those who are culturally Deaf and those who are not).  We are proud of our more than 8,000 graduates, many of whom are now employed in careers where D/deaf individuals were traditionally underrepresented.  We are especially proud to produce the largest number of deaf science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates in the nation each year.

We are also proud of the accomplishments of Nyle DiMarco, who has been so positively recognized by the media over the past few months as he has enjoyed tremendous success in the arts world.  Nyle won the America’s Next Top Model competition in 2015, and is competing in Dancing With The Stars in 2016, spotlighting the abilities of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing people everywhere.  We salute Nyle as a role model for our students and those throughout the nation and world who are cheering his every success.  In fact, Nyle's mother is a proud RIT/NTID alumna, and so we consider him very much a part of our family.

In addition to applauding Nyle's career success, we also salute his passionate advocacy on behalf of bilingual education for D/deaf children, as reported in the Washington Post on March 28. His efforts are an important part of the conversation that can and should be informing our nation.  NTID applauds the efforts of individuals and organizations who are seeking to contribute in meaningful and constructive ways to this growing body of evidence-based research designed to enhance the educational success of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

To the best of our knowledge, there is no credible evidence-based research that suggests that exposing D/deaf and hard-of-hearing children to American Sign Language from infancy will harm their ability to acquire English (which is essential to employment success in the workplace), or for that matter to hinder the development of spoken language.  To suggest otherwise is plainly irresponsible.  Indeed, on our campus of 1,200 D/deaf and hard-of-hearing students, there is no evidence of ASL disappearing or its value being diminished.  NTID researchers continue to collaborate with others around the United States and world, seeking evidence to support best practices in child development and education.

At the same time, NTID remains a place that is open to D/deaf and hard-of-hearing students from all communication preferences and backgrounds.  We recognize that students come to us with a variety of communication skills that they and their parents have chosen to develop in their best interests. We are committed to providing them with a wide range of access and support services to meet their individual needs, and that will enable them to graduate with the skills necessary to achieve employment success.  We believe that NTID continues to be a place where our students can discover their identities as D/deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals without feeling pressured to conform to any expressed communication ideal. 

RIT and NTID applaud the efforts of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing consumer organizations, especially the National Association of the Deaf, which has been the leading advocacy organization for D/deaf citizens in this nation.  We join them in cheering and supporting Nyle's accomplishments as a highly talented citizen of our country.

Dr. Gerard J. Buckley                                                                        Dr. William Destler

President and Dean, NTID                                                                 President, RIT

Vice President, RIT

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