Top universities for Deaf students
Nelson Mandela once said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” For the more than 20,000 Deaf students who attend post-secondary educational institutions in the United States each year, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures they have access to this powerful weapon. And while most schools meet the basic requirements necessary by law to accommodate hearing loss, some excel at providing services and meeting the specific needs of the Deaf community.
Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
Galludet University is a private college.
2021-2022 total costs (tuition, room and board, etc): $38,426
Student-Faculty ratio: 6:1
As the only liberal arts college for the Deaf in the world, Gallaudet University prides itself in being a “barrier-free education." The university offers a bilingual learning environment featuring American Sign Language and English with programs and services designed specifically to accommodate the Deaf. The Office for Students with Disabilities provides services for students with disabilities and self-advocacy training as well as interpreting, real-time captioning and tutoring services.
Students can choose from more than 50 majors, including Arts and Media, Business, Human Services, Humanities, Language/Culture, and Science/Math/Technology. Graduate degrees include ASL and Deaf Studies; Counseling; Education; Government and Public Affairs; Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences; History, Philosophy, Religion and Sociology; Interpretation; Linguistics; Psychology and Social Work.
More than 1,500 students are enrolled at Gallaudet, which boasts a robust campus life including a campus ministry, full athletic program and renowned dance group. Recent literature indicates 83 percent of full-time students hold an internship before graduation; 98 percent of alumni who responded to a recent survey are working on or pursuing a graduate degree.
Additionally, Gallaudet has credit transfer agreements with several community colleges in the country including Austin Community College, Austin, Texas; Kapi'olani Community College, Honolulu, Hawaii; Ohlone College, Fremont, California; John A. Logan College, Carterville, Illinois; and Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, Mass.
History: Gallaudet University realized its beginnings in 1850 when Amos Kendall donated land to establish an elementary school to educate deaf and blind students, originally named Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill authorizing the school to grant college degrees and renamed it National College for the Deaf and Dumb. In 1986, the Education of the Deaf Act awarded Gallaudet university status.
National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester, New York (NTID)
The National Technical Institute for the Deaf, is located on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and is a private college.
2021-2022 total costs: $35,576
Student-Faculty ratio: not available
One of nine colleges of Rochester Institute of Technology. Of the more than 14,000 undergraduate students from around the world on campus, 1,100 are Deaf or have hearing loss. The institute is the first and largest of its kind for Deaf students who can choose from more than 90 majors in RIT’s nine colleges. Students are mainstreamed.
Instructors communicate with ASL, spoken language, finger spelling, printed and visual aids, and online resources. FM systems are also available along with tutoring, note-taking, real-time captioning services and interpreting staff. RIT’s campus has dozens of smart classrooms with state-of-the-art computers and multimedia-based technologies, as well as engineering labs and digital printing presses.
Campus life includes more than 200 clubs and organizations and dozes of men’s and women’s varsity, intramural and club sports. Ninenty-five percent of deaf and hard of hearing graduates are employed. The more than 8,000 alumni are employed with industry leaders such as BNY Mellon, Boeing aircraft, Inc., Central Intelligence Agency, Google, Microsoft, U.S. Department of Defense and Walt Disney Company.
History: The concept for NTID began with a proposal in 1964 from a workshop titled “Improved Vocational Opportunities for the Deaf”, which was held at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In 1965, Senator Lister Hill (Alabama) introduced the NTID Bill, which passed the House of Representatives and Senate unanimously. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill into law and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare invited colleges and universities from around the country to apply for sponsorship of NTID. RIT competed against eight other colleges for NTID to become part of the university, which it did in 1968.
The SouthWest College for the Deaf (SWCD), Big Spring, Texas
The SouthWest College for the Deaf (SWCD) is located Big Spring, Texas State and is a state supported community college on the campus of Howard College.
2021-2022 tuition: Approximately $4,000 for in-state tuition. Does not include room and board, etc. Qualified Texas Deaf residents are exempt from tuition fees.
Student-Faculty ratio: 7-1
SWCD is the only self-contained community college serving Deaf and hard-of-hearing students. They offer associate degree and certification programs in American Sign Language: Deaf Support Specialist; Automotive Maintenance Technician; Building Construction Technology; Computer and Information Systems; Dental Lab Technology; Interpreter Training; Office Technology; Visual Communications Technology; and Welding. American Sign Language is the primary communication used in instruction. SWCD students are also able to participate in athletics, student organizations, class internships and other residential activities on the Howard College campus.
History: SWCD opened in November, 1980 after a feasibility study confirmed the need for a post-secondary institution to provide higher education and career training for the Deaf. SWCD focuses on educating students who may not be ready to attend Gallaudet University or the National Institute of Technology for the Deaf.
Other universities and colleges known for services for the hearing impaired
While these campuses are known for their services to the Deaf community, many other private and public universities have wide-ranging services and facilities for students with hearing loss of all degrees. California State University's (Northridge) National Center on Deafness (NCOD) in particular offers programs, degrees and services of interest to students who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.
More on the Deaf community, culture and American Sign Language