CU Museum of Natural History launches pilot for science-education tools using American Sign Language

A team at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History is working with education and disability advocates to create science-education resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Funded through a $22,800 grant from the CU Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement, university staff are collaborating with educators and experts to develop free archeology, paleontology and biology lessons in American Sign Language, Spanish and English available to the public online.

Op-Ed “Advancing scientific discourse in American Sign Language” published from Colin Lualdi, Barbara Spiecker, Alicia Wooten, and Kaitlyn Clark

Deaf scientists who use American Sign Language (ASL) need to be able to communicate specialized concepts with ease. Because deaf individuals — here we use ‘deaf’ broadly to refer to the full kaleidoscope of deaf experiences — have historically been under-represented in science, the linguistic capabilities of ASL have yet to be fully explored for scientific discourse. As a consequence, deaf scientists may not have the necessary tools to effectively articulate their work. Nowadays, with improved educational opportunities and communication access, there are more deaf ASL users who are experts in scientific fields.

STEM Stories with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Professionals

Welcome to STEM Stories with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Professionals. Hands & Voices, in partnership with a sponsorship from the NTID Regional STEM Center at RIT/NTID, created this interview series with Karen Putz sharing stories of Deaf/Hard of Hearing adults working in the STEM field. Each one of the videos below is a free-flowing conversation with a variety of questions about career, home, and fun!

Meet the first deaf, Black woman to earn a Stem doctorate

Amie Fornah Sankoh, who grew up in Sierra Leone during the civil war and lost her hearing around three years old, is the first deaf, Black woman to receive a doctorate in any scientific, technical, engineering and maths discipline in the US, and possibly the world. She will graduate with a PhD from the University of Tennessee (UT) Knoxville’s Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology on 20 May.

Dr. Audrey Cameron honored with the Order of the British Empire

Congratulations to Dr. Audrey Cameron for her recommendation to His Majesty The King for the honour of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Birthday 2023 Honours List! Dr. Cameron (Chancellor’s Fellow and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry) studied her PGCE at Moray House and is now a lecturer on the PGDE Secondary programme (Chemistry and General Science), and the MSc Inclusive Education (Deaf Studies). Her OBE is being awarded to recognise her: (1) position as Chair of the University’s British Sign Language (BSL) Plan Implementation Group; (2) services to Chemical Sciences; (3) services to Inclusion in Science Communication.

Personal experiences inspire RIT’s first deaf doctoral candidates

For decades, deaf and hard-of-hearing students attending RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf have been earning associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. This year, the first three NTID-supported students are on track to earn their doctoral degrees from RIT.

Amelia Dall Honored as a 2023 Rising Stars by Sixty35Media

Ask Amelia Dall what advice she’d give to younger people, and she boils it all down to one word. “Perseverance is key,” she says. “I repeat this in every interview, in every conversation I have with someone when discussing my career and advice for the future generations: Keep the word ‘perseverance’ in your head, always.” She ought to know. The 31-year-old is an archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management — not an easy job to attain, since most positions in archaeology are temporary or contracted. And she happens to be deaf.

Navigating unchartered waters: A glimpse into the life of a deaf pharmacist

My inability to hear with my ears does not define what I can do. It is my persistence, my grit, my, my will, and my curiosity that makes me who I am—a capable person with a “unique-ability.”

Reproductive Justice for the Deaf Community

Almost half of all pregnancies each year in the United States are mistimed or unwanted and associated with adverse health outcomes. Deaf women are as likely to be pregnant as their hearing counterparts but are 67% more likely to experience unintended pregnancy. Although there are limited data on the sexual health behaviors of deaf individuals, research has shown that deaf people are more likely than the general population to rely on withdrawal and condoms to prevent pregnancy. Further, health resources and communication with physicians are often not fully accessible, with the former often in spoken or written English and the latter when sign language interpreters are not present. In this commentary, I present literature to illustrate the disparity deaf women face compared with hearing women and to make the case for the association among unintended pregnancy, its adverse effects, and reproductive injustice for deaf women.

Science in ASL is a whole different language: Interpreters in STEM

Deaf and hard of hearing scientists often face a lack of communication access, which is troubling because they have made significant contributions to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields over the decades and diversify the STEM workforce. Therefore, sign language interpreters trained in science are critical to making STEM inclusive for deaf scientists. During my PhD journey in the past few years, I have slowly expanded my network of scientifically trained interpreters. Having worked with me for about three years, my scientific interpreters know my research and what I do. Having the same interpreters with me throughout my PhD is extremely important because it creates a communication barrier if the interpreter is not skilled in STEM vocabulary.

WADE-ing in Waquoit Bay

What’s in a word? A lot, if the word is “watershed” or any other concept from the field of coastal science. The need for words that convey complex concepts can be a challenge for deaf and hard of hearing students who rely on American Sign Language (ASL). American Sign Language does not have signs for many scientific concepts, which means bilingual users will have to borrow English words (via fingerspelling) to convey the concepts. Education programs at the Wells, Waquoit Bay, and Narragansett Bay Reserves are working to build ASL’s coastal science vocabulary—and create new learning opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing students—through the Watershed Stewardship in Action: Deaf Students on the Estuary project (WADE).

RIT/NTID laboratory director has life-size statue on display for If/Then She Can national exhibit

Dr. Tiffany Panko, a Deaf director of the Deaf Health Laboratory in the Center for Culture and Language at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, will be among 120 women in STEM personified in life-sized statues that will be on display in Smithsonian gardens and in select Smithsonian museums March 5-27 for the #IfThenSheCan — The Exhibit.



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