Rochester is home to the largest deaf population per capita in the United States. It is also home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which is part of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Thanks to RIT-NITD and Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, the MobileBooth East team was able to meet and learn from members of this diverse and dynamic community.
Bob Panara was NTID’s first deaf faculty member when the school opened in 1968 and founded its English and Theater departments. He became deaf as a young child. Bob loved baseball, so his father once arranged to introduce him to Babe Ruth in hopes that the shock would restore his hearing. It didn’t, but Bob remains an avid baseball enthusiast and is attempting to get a former deaf baseball player, Dummy Hoy, into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his great playing record and for inventing the hand signals still used today in baseball.
Bob was interviewed by NTID Media Relations Director Greg Livadas who also arranged an interview with Paul and Sally Taylor.
Paul and Sally have been married more than 40 years. About five years ago they decided to get cochlear implants. This journey was documented by their hearing daughter, Irene Brodsky Taylor, and made into a film Hear and Now.
Todd Gordon and Scott Fearing
Another participant, Todd Gordon, is a recent graduate from the NTID. His partner, Scott Fearing, who is hearing, is the program director at Gay Alliance. They talked about how text messaging has changed the way many deaf people communicate. They also compared the experience of coming out as deaf with coming out as gay.
NTID President Alan Hurwitz recorded his story with the help of interpreter, Jim Orr. Alan was born deaf and earned an engineering degree without the aid of interpreters. He’s been a part of NTID for almost all of the college’s 41-year history. Alan has seen firsthand the changes in education for deaf students over the years and how technological advances have improved education.