Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf is receiving a $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
It will use the grant to transform its DeafTEC Technical Education Center for deaf and hard-of-hearing students program into a resource center with a goal of placing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in highly skilled jobs in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
The deaf and hard-of-hearing are underrepresented in those fields, according to NTID president Gerry Buckley.
“All of us know that if you're in one of those STEM careers, the potential is for you to have as much as 30 to 35 percent more in earnings potential," he said.
Buckley also noted that the grant will also be used to focus on veterans, who after their military service, may be dealing with hearing loss.
“Through exposure to noise and environmental sounds lost a portion of their hearing, and now might have to make some adjustments in how they communicate and in how they prepare for employment," he said.
Buckley says one of the reasons they're focusing on STEM is because that's where the growth opportunities are, and the deaf and hard-of-hearing should have an equal opportunity to participate in those careers. He says doing so will also create a more diverse workforce and increased acceptance of such individuals.
This story was produced by WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, focusing on disabilities and inclusion.