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CCC Helping to Create National-Model Program for Deaf STEM Students

 

Camden County College is partnering with Rochester Institute of Technology and Cornell University to develop a virtual academic community (VAC) for deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students. They are doing so using a five-year National Science Foundation grant of $1.6 million that was awarded by the NSF’s Research in Disability Education Program to RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

 

The goal of the project is to increase the graduation rates of D/HH students who are majoring in STEM programs. Once completed, this project will serve as a model for similar programs to be developed for collegiate and high school students throughout the nation.

 

The institutions aim to achieve this goal and establish a replicable program by creating a “cyber infrastructure” that will provide remote tutoring and mentoring along with interpreting and captioning services. The project also will link D/HH students at all three of the mainstream schools with one another.

 

“Deaf and hard-of-hearing students are in the minority in their STEM courses,” said Kathryn Earp, student advisement specialist at CCC. “By connecting them via a virtual academic community, they will have access to other STEM student mentors and tutors without having the communication barriers they may face when interacting with hearing students.

 

“With such institutional and self-directed support systems in place, these students will be more likely to complete their academic programs and graduate. In addition, incoming deaf and hard-of-hearing students will be more likely to enroll in the challenging STEM programs if they know that they will have the support services they need to succeed.”

 

More than 30,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students are enrolled in colleges and universities throughout the United States. Approximately 35 are enrolled at CCC each semester, and about one-quarter of them are majoring in a STEM subject.

 

This isn’t the first time that CCC has teamed with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT to develop a national model. In 2004, the College joined with the Technical Institute to establish an online system of notetaker training that now serves as a prototype at other mainstream colleges and universities throughout the United States.


Published: February 23, 2012