Presenter: Todd Pagano
Title/Affiliation: Associate Dean for Teaching & Scholarship Excellence, Professor of Chemistry, Rochester Institute of Technology/ National Technical Institute for the Deaf
A goal of the Laboratory Science Technology (LST) program at Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY) is to produce graduates with strong foundations in applied science, hands-on laboratory applications, and “soft skills” necessary for competitive employment as laboratory scientists. At first glance, the LST program appears to be a typical, high-standard science program similar to any other, but in fact, it is a one-of-kind Chemical Technology program specifically for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students. The program resides within the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and has achieved success through outreach, building industrial partnerships, curricular advancements, and student involvement in undergraduate research. Historically, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students have lagged behind hearing peers in persistence rates to obtaining post-secondary degrees- leading to a lower employment rate (and lower earnings when employed) in science fields. The LST program has worked to narrow these gaps and has an 80% persistence rate to graduation and places 98% of its graduates in careers. New employers of graduates have discovered that hiring Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing scientists with strong skill-sets in the analytical sciences is not only altruistic, but makes great “business sense” when their competence in the laboratory helps to improve organizational quality/productivity. Strategies and practices for making science curricula accessible and for increasing student success will be discussed with the goal of renewing interest in broadening participation of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals in the field.