Press Release

Senator Gillibrand Visits Rochester Institute Of Technology To Announce Push For Millions In Federal Funding For National Technical Institute For The Deaf, Highlight Investment In Semiconductor Laboratory At RIT

Dec 11, 2023

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to call for over $95 million in federal funding for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), one of nine colleges within RIT. Every year, Senator Gillibrand leads the fight for NTID appropriations to ensure the one-of-a-kind institution has the resources needed to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing students with a college education that gives them the skills they need to excel. Last year, Gillibrand secured $92.5 million for NTID in the omnibus spending package. 

Gillibrand also highlighted $2 million she secured last year to expand RIT’s one-of-a-kind semiconductor fabrication laboratory for chips research. This funding has allowed RIT to more than double the size of their laboratory and support even more groundbreaking innovation and research. It also creates new opportunity for students at RIT and at NTID to work in the growing field of semiconductor manufacturing, creating a pipeline of homegrown talent into one of New York’s most important sectors.

RIT is one of New York’s most important educational institutions. Since its creation, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester has provided hard-of-hearing and deaf students with an educational environment that meets their specific needs and the resources to thrive in their chosen careers.” said Senator Gillibrand. “And now, enhanced cleanroom facilities are helping establish New York as a global leader in the semiconductor industry and training its students to work in this critically important field. I am advocating for NTID to receive nearly $96 million in the upcoming spending package and I will keep fighting for resources for RIT at large to support STEM education and workforce development.”

NTID is not only a gem for RIT; it serves as a resource for the nation while leading the world in technical education for the deaf and hard-of-hearing,said RIT President David Munson. “We are grateful to Senator Gillibrand for recognizing and supporting the innovative teaching and research occurring at NTID.

Senator Gillibrand has a history of being a staunch supporter and advocate for NTID,said Gerry Buckley, NTID President and RIT Vice President and Dean. “By fighting for our federal funding each and every year, she has helped deliver the resources needed to support our students and their success. Thank you, Senator Gillibrand, for making such a positive impact on thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing young people.

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf was established in 1965 under the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Act. As the first and largest technological college in the world for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, NTID has pioneered and set the standard for postsecondary and technical education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Senator Gillibrand is a longstanding advocate for Rochester’s educational institutions. She has advocated for RIT NTID to receive millions in federal funding every year during her time in the Senate. In this time, she has delivered more than $700 million to the institution.

Last year, Gillibrand also secured $2 million to help the Rochester Institute of Technology bolster chip research. This funding allowed RIT to purchase and install equipment for their microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing education and research. This includes critical upgrades to cleanroom equipment and resources for their dry-lab. With this modernization project, RIT has become well-positioned to continue making major research contributions to US semiconductor manufacturing, while also developing highly-qualified engineering talent to help alleviate the global chips shortage and help solidify the role of the US following the passage of the CHIPS Act. 

Gillibrand’s full letter to Senate appropriators requesting funding for NTID is available here or below:

Dear Chairwoman Baldwin and Ranking Member Capito:

We appreciate the ongoing support you have provided to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). We respectfully request NTID be funded at $95,900,000 in the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY 24) Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill.

NTID is the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf students and one of nine colleges at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). When NTID opened its doors in 1968, less than one percent of all college-age deaf individuals were enrolled in postsecondary education. Of those employed, most held unskilled or semi-skilled positions, and there were virtually no deaf people in technical or managerial positions. For more than 50 years and with the support of Congress, NTID has provided a college education leading to jobs and career advancement for deaf and hard-of-hearing students from across the country. Support for NTID is an investment with significant returns in the form of increased employment and reduced dependence on federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments for their deaf and hard-of hearing students. NTID is a federal program that works.

For the current academic year, NTID enrolled 1,135 students. NTID’s first-year persistence rates and graduation rates for both sub-baccalaureate and baccalaureate deaf and hard-of-hearing students were higher than the national rates for all students at two-year and four-year colleges. In FY 22, 96% of NTID’s 2021 graduates had been placed in jobs commensurate with their education level, consistent with NTID’s average employment rate of 95% for the last five years. Using data from the Social Security Administration in 2013, NTID showed that their almost 10,000 alumni over their lifetimes are employed at a higher rate and earn more (therefore paying more in taxes) than deaf and hard-of-hearing students who graduate from other institutions. For example, by age 50, the median salary for NTID deaf graduates with bachelor’s degrees was $58,000 compared to $21,000 for deaf students who graduated from other institutions. Additionally, NTID graduates collect SSI at lower rates than deaf and hard-of-hearing students who do not attend college.

In FY 23, NTID received $92,500,000 in federal appropriations, with $9,500,000 designated to support and expand the NTID Regional STEM Center (NRSC) partnership. For FY 24, we are requesting an increase in NTID’s operations funding from $92,500,000 to $95,900,000. This $3.4M increase includes funding to hire additional sign language interpreters and captionists and to expand STEM outreach activities to prepare deaf and hard-of-hearing middle and high school students for college and the workforce.

NTID offers career-focused associate degree programs, sign language interpreting programs, and an MS in Secondary Education of Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. NTID also provides transfer associate degree programs to baccalaureate and graduate studies in the other colleges of RIT. In support of those deaf and hard-of-hearing students enrolled in the other RIT colleges, whether as a result of direct admission to RIT or continuation from an NTID associate degree, NTID provides a range of access services (e.g., sign language interpreting, real-time speech-to-text captioning, notetaking) as well as tutoring services.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students are pursuing the wide range of majors and career paths available to them at RIT, with students pursuing everything from a Ph.D. in Computing and Information Science to an MS in Manufacturing and Mechanical Systems Integration to a BS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. As these students take full advantage of the more than 200 programs at RIT, the demand for skilled, specialized interpreting and captioning has increased. NTID’s FY 24 appropriations request would enable them to hire 10 additional interpreters to satisfy 98% of interpreting requests and 15 additional captionists to provide captioning for both in-person and remote classes and activities, resolving the 100 hours of requests each week that cannot be satisfied currently.

For FY 24, NTID hopes to increase outreach funding by $2,000,000 to expand on the work done by NTID and the NTID Regional STEM Center (NRSC). This STEM outreach serves deaf and hard-of-hearing middle and high school students by providing STEM career exploration and college preparation, dual credit courses, camps, and programming for their parents about STEM career opportunities. NTID and the NRSC also provide professional development to teachers on best practices for teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students, professional development to interpreters on best practices for middle and high school STEM interpreting, workshops to VR counselors on best practices related to advice on opportunities in STEM education and careers, and outreach to employers on how to provide internship and career opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

NTID has demonstrated a commitment to managing their resources responsibly and efficiently. NTID actively seeks alternative sources of public and private support, with 26% of NTID’s Operations budget coming from non-federal funds, up from 9% in 1970. Since FY 2013, NTID raised more than $14 million in support from individuals and organizations. NTID has also recognized that construction funding is limited and addressed critical renovations using existing federal and non-federal funds.

The return on investment we see from supporting the professional and technical education of young deaf Americans at NTID is profound: better-than-national-average persistence and graduation rates, an astounding employment rate, impressive earnings, and decreased reliance on federal entitlements. Therefore, we strongly support NTID’s unique mission and their request for $95,900,000 for FY 24. Thank you for your time and consideration.