By Lisa Cable
This past July my daughter, Lily, headed off to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York State. She attended TechTigers, a STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Art/Math) camp specifically for deaf & hard of hearing kids in middle school grades. She even got to build her own computer and have it shipped home to use!
When the campers were in the daytime “classrooms” they had full access to the learning in both spoken English and ASL, with captioning being provided as well. For context, Lily is deaf with two cochlear implants and uses speech/listening at her mainstream school, but outside of school often chooses to go without her implants and use ASL. She has just started grade eight this September.
I asked Lily to answer some questions about her time at the NTID camp:
What did you do during your week at camp?
We had lots of activities such as learning how to hack, building a PC, enjoying great food and chilling with other people. We also got to go out every night and enjoy fun activities such as an amusement park, bowling and the Strong National Museum of Play.
What did you learn during your week at camp?
I learned many new things even when I was not doing the activities that had more of a focus on learning. In the activities I learned to code and how different components work in a PC as well as doing some hands-on learning, which I really enjoyed. Other than that, I improved my ASL signing skills, met lots of different people and learned that snow cones are delicious!
What was the thing that you enjoyed the most during your week?
What I enjoyed most was meeting other people. I loved being around other deaf people and being able to sign and talk to many people. I don’t love talking to people but I surprised myself and made some great friends.
What was the thing that surprised you the most?
The easy flow of communication. Everybody just talked and you felt like you were able to just join in whenever. They were willing to meet new people and talk and help. What also surprised me was that some of the teachers were hearing and had interpreters but were willing to learn sign to teach and communicate with the students. It’s great when teachers want to learn new skills to give the students a better learning experience and access.
What did you learn about the university that you thought was cool?
How easy they made it to get the help you needed, because they provided so many accessibility options and opportunities where you could get help whenever you needed, hearing or not. As it is a hearing/deaf school they also make sure everyone has equal opportunities to succeed!
How did they make sure everyone had access/was able to communicate?
In every activity they had multiple interpreters and captioners for whoever needed them. They made sure everybody could understand and had whatever they needed to survive.
For more information about NTID and TechTigers check out these links:
National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT): https://www.rit.edu/ntid/
TechTigers week-long summer program for deaf or hard-of-hearing students entering 7th, 8th, or 9th grade who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math: