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American sign language

National Technical Institute for the Deaf

Gerard Buckley still clearly remembers July 26, 1990.

On that day, he stood alongside dozens of others in the White House Rose Garden, as then-President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

"It was really amazing," Buckley recalled. "It was everything I wish the country was today. The Republicans, the Democrats, the independents, the business community, leaders from the disability community all came together."

That day, Buckley was a young deaf man. Today, he is president of RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Gabriel Ponte-Fleary/RIT

According to a national registry, only 13 percent of the more than 10,000 sign-language interpreters in the U.S. identify as people of color.

RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf is trying to change that.

About a year ago, NTID established a two-year preceptorship called the Randleman Program, which specifically addresses the need for diversity in the interpreting field. 

The program was named for Valerie Randleman, the first black interpreter in RIT's Department of Access Services.