On a broad, national level, DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education National Center of Excellence, serves as a resource for high schools and community colleges that educate deaf and hard-of-hearing students in STEM-related programs and for employers hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. DeafTEC is also establishing a model within targeted regions of the country to create partnerships among high schools, community colleges, and industry to improve access to technological education and employment for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.
The audience for this national center is the estimated 150,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students enrolled in high schools and the 137,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students in postsecondary schools in the United States, the teachers and counselors that serve them, and their future employers.
The year 2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act, the landmark civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity and access for persons with disabilities. Although progress has been made during the last two decades, people with disabilities continue to be employed at rates much lower than the rest of the population. This is especially true of Americans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. DeafTEC aims to improve these statistics by increasing the access that deaf and hard-of-hearing students have to career information, to a technical education, and to unrestricted employment.
DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students is housed at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, one of the nine colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. NTID was established in 1968 to reverse the long history of under-employment and unemployment among our nation’s deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens. Today more than 1,300 deaf and hard-of-hearing students study, share residence halls, and enjoy social life together with 16,000 hearing students on the RIT campus.
Center Goal and Objectives
The goal of DeafTEC is to successfully integrate more deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals into the workplace in highly-skilled technician jobs in which these individuals are currently under-represented and underutilized. To achieve this goal, DeafTEC will:
- Improve the career self-efficacy and career awareness of deaf and hard-of-hearing high school and college students related to STEM technician careers.
- Improve high school and community college teachers’ and counselors’ understanding of select STEM careers and opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in those careers.
- Improve the instructional and technical skills of high school teachers in several STEM areas.
- Establish, expand, or improve pathways for deaf and hard-of-hearing students to transition from high school to associate degrees, to baccalaureate degrees, and beyond in selected STEM areas.
- Improve the access to learning for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in mainstreamed high school and college STEM-related courses.
- Develop employers’ awareness of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals as potential employees and how they can be hired and successfully integrated into the STEM technician workforce.
Clearinghouse of Information
This nationally focused, comprehensive website will serve as a clearinghouse for information related to technological education and technician careers for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and will include:
- STEM Career Awareness
Extensive materials on career awareness and opportunities related to STEM technician fields developed specifically for deaf and hard-of-hearing high school and community college students and their teachers and counselors.
- Best Practices for Teaching
A comprehensive collection of universal design strategies and best practices for instruction for teachers who have mainstreamed deaf and hard-of hearing students in their classrooms, as well as other students with language difficulties.
- Developmental English/Math
Instructional strategies and materials for teachers to use to develop the English and math skills of deaf and hard-of-hearing students as well as other students with language difficulties.
- Employer Development
Strategies for employers and co-workers to develop the sensitivity and skills necessary for hearing and deaf colleagues to successfully work together.
This model for partnerships among high schools, community colleges, and industry will improve the access to technological education and technician employment for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in several STEM disciplines, and will include:
- Dual Credit
Expanding the NSF-supported Project Fast Forward (DUE #0903167) to offer dual credit courses to deaf and hard-of-hearing students in more STEM subjects and to more high schools around the country.
Developing articulation agreements to help transition deaf and hard-of-hearing students from high school to college.
- Professional Development
- Providing professional development for high school teachers and community college faculty on universal design, best teaching practices, and instructional materials and strategies for helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students develop skills in English and math.
- Providing professional development for employers on the strategies for working with deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Collaboration with ATE Centers/Projects
Work with ATE Projects and Centers to help them address the special needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in STEM program.