Deaf and Hard of Hearing Overview
RIT is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. During the first year of the grant there were 31 Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HH) women faculty at NTID (likely the highest number in US). Two faculty subgroups were identified as playing a specific role within the grant - Women of Color (WoC) faculty and Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) women faculty. This update focuses on DHH Women at RIT. The DHH Women's ADVANCE effort is organized within two teams:
- The Connectivity Series Team focused on creating opportunities for professional/career development and networking for DHH women faculty at NTID, RIT and at events off campus such as professional conferences.
- The Social Science Research Team focused on designing, conducting and disseminating results regarding the career navigation and challenges facing DHH women who pursue careers at mainstream universities.
The summary below includes past efforts and projected future work in each team area.
The first session of the DHH series invited NTID DHH women participants to develop an agenda for future events. Examples of D/HH Connectivity series offerings include discussions with hearing and DHH guests regarding barriers to advancement and strategies for achieving career goals, a panel of experts discussing how to develop proposals for external funding, a meeting with the NTID Dean, and advice regarding building international networks and partnerships. Sessions take a range of formats including on campus events and teleconference events using the NTID CISCO teleconference system. This is an important feature of the series since the population of DHH women academics and professionals is relatively small and often are located fart from RIT; teleconferencing allows DHH NTID women faculty to interact with colleagues nationally and internationally. A subset of the participants in the career goal sessions decided to work on individualized career planning through collaborative meetings. Another participant submitted a competitive internal proposal for bringing an internationally known D/HH woman to campus; the proposal was funded through a Connect Grant offered through an ADVANCE initiative and as a result Dr. Liisa Kauppenin (recipient of the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Award and former president of the World Federation of the Deaf) presented in both an open session to the university and in special session to D/HH women.
Feedback is collected via paper survey at the end of each session. Results indicate a high level of satisfaction with the events and have also generated ideas for future events. Examples of Likert questions focused on the degree to which the session was useful, related to career goals, involved presenters knowledgeable presenters, and whether achieved stated objectives. The average response was between 4.25-4.7 on a scale of 1-5. The Connectivity Series is entirely managed by the DHH members of the team.
During the third year of the grant the Connectivity Series team received requests, concerns and complaints from other faculty, including hearing men and women, DHH men, and hearing Faculty of Color. These colleagues believed that that they could also benefit from attending Connectivity Series sessions, and requested that they be open to all. The team considered these requests and, with the support of NTID President Buckley who provided additional funding, the DHH Connectivity Series expanded to include two formats - one a smaller and closed session for DHH women only and a second session open to all NTID and RIT faculty.
Social Science Research
The Social Science Research team designed, conducted and analyzed two focus group interviews with DHH women faculty. Opt-in and snowball strategies used to recruit participants yielded a total of 13 interviewees who were divided into two interview groups. Each interview lasted approximately 90 minutes and was recorded via voice interpreters. Transcripts were analyzed using a grounded theory approach in which data are systematically reviewed and organized in ways that reflect existing theory or suggest new theory regarding the phenomena under study (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Main topics covered included descriptions of career their career pathways, including barriers and strategies to overcome barriers, the influence of both formal and informal mentoring/support, and the importance of opportunities for peer networking. Deeper analysis revealed that DHH women academics developed alternative approaches and strategies to overcome barriers, including resilience/persistence, independent learning, and self-reflection. Additionally, a survey was administered to all NTID faculty to learn their concerns and suggestions regarding career development.
The research efforts have resulted thus far in the development of four papers, all of which have been presented one or more times at national conferences. Two of the papers are currently in the revise and resubmit mode, and the other two are in development for submission to journals.
A February 2017 workshop was presented by Nancy Hlibok Amann. Nancy Hlibok Amann is the superintendent of California School for the Deaf in Riverside. She earned bachelor and master degrees in Government and Administration from Gallaudet University, and worked at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind in various positions before earning her Ph.D. in bi-literacy and reading from the University of Arizona. She became a literacy specialist and in 2006, a school administrator. In 2013, Hlibok Amann became the director of Special Projects and Development at Deaf Community Services in San Diego, and then a high school teacher in the San Diego Unified School District.
This presentation had three sessions over the course of two days, and was for deaf women in administration, including a session for all faculty regarding the past, present, and future of deaf education.
The DHH team has worked this year (2016-2017) with defining the elements of the project that should continue into the no-cost extension and beyond the end of the grant. Areas under consideration include a permanent speaker series, focused workshops and supports for DHH faculty, and targeted areas for improvement such as the establishment of funding sources for DHH faculty who attend primarily hearing events and conferences. Over the five years of funding the DHH teams have lost members due to retirement and work related demands. As a result we will also need to add two-three new members to the team. We will also address ways to include DHH faculty in the ongoing work of AdvanceRIT through the to-be-establishment of a centralized campus ADVANCE center.
The DHH project team continue to meet regularly for their Connectivity Series gatherings and formal speaker sessions. Based on National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) faculty feedback and with the support of NTID President Buckley, the DHH Connectivity Series is now offered in two (DHH and ALL faculty) session formats for all faculty to have the opportunity to attend. The DHH research team’s focus group findings uncovered themes of career pathways, mentoring, and networking. A February 2017 workshop was presented for deaf women in administration, and a session for all faculty regarding the past, present, and future of deaf education. The DHH team has worked this year (2016-2017) with defining the elements of the project that should continue into the no-cost extension and beyond the end of the grant. Elements under consideration include a permanent speaker series, focused workshops and supports for DHH faculty, and targeted areas for improvement such as the establishment of funding sources for DHH faculty who attend primarily hearing events and conferences. The team will also address ways to include DHH faculty in the ongoing work of AdvanceRIT through the to-be-establishment of a centralized campus ADVANCE center.