UT-Austin Deaf Center receives $20 million grant to support students

Jessica Harden

UT’s National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes received a $20 million federal grant renewal in August to continue its work on enhancing long-lasting accessibility solutions for deaf students across the nation.

NDC is the only federally-funded center in the country focused on the success of deaf students after high school, NDC co-director Tia Ivanko said. UT’s College of Education established the program in 2017 with the same grant from the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The center works with various institutions across the nation to improve learning solutions for deaf students.

“Our work seeks to achieve change at the systems level by providing support to programs and projects that serve deaf students,” Ivanko said through an American Sign Language interpreter. “This means we encourage moving past ‘band-aid’ solutions and toward building knowledge, skills and tools to truly support the trajectory of deaf students, wherever they are aiming to go.”

NDC co-director Carrie Lou Garberoglio said some of NDC’s work is to evaluate the resources for deaf students already in place at colleges to help them create further goals and work toward long term accessibility. 

Scott Ritter, director of disability resources at Madison College in Wisconsin, said the NDC helped his college implement a campuswide closed captioning system and include American Sign Language interpretation teams for study abroad programs. 

“(NDC) sort of did what I would call an environmental scan and a gap analysis,” Ritter said.  “(And) having an expert set of eyes coming in from the outside … and work with us to better understand how we can get better at what we do was an amazing opportunity.” 

Ivanko said similar learning solutions and accommodations won’t work for everyone because the Deaf community is diverse.

“We see institutions wanting to not only meet minimum expectations of providing access, but (also) provide the best possible services so deaf people can achieve their goals,” Garberoglio said.

NDC’s work increased the capacity to address the needs of deaf students at the local, state and college level, according to stakeholder data provided by Ivanko. 

Garberoglio said NDC’s goals will remain the same with this new grant. 

“But we will be further refining our model and building on the resources, infrastructure and networks we’ve built over the last five years in order to deepen the support we’re able to provide to our stakeholders,” Garberoglio said.

Editor’s Note: Quotes were translated through an American Sign Language interpreter.