The original purpose of this study was to investigate the role of deaf artists on the educational and career choices of deaf students. What it has become is a baseline investigation into role model sources for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students enrolled in visual/imaging arts classes at Rochester Institute of Technology(RIT). To ascertain the degree of role model influence, if any, a thirty-three question survey was administered to approximately 200 college students enrolled in 15 different visual arts classes taught at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and the College of ImagingArts and Sciences (CIAS). Numerous studies, personal testimonies, and common experience lead credence to the belief that positive role models influence youth behavior and aspirations. The literature is replete with these effects on a variety of minority youth as well as on other marginal members of society. However, there is substantially less role model information specifically related to the deaf and hard-of-hearing population. Whereas fields such as math, science, and the performing arts do have notable deaf professionals serving as role models (Lang and Meath-Lang, 1995), the absence of contemporary deaf role models is especially noticeable in the visual arts. By inference, this apparent lack of professional deaf and hard-of-hearing imaging artists may be attributed to a very real lack of deaf or hard-of-hearing role model exposure throughout the formative years. Speaking in general terms, John Jung (1996) contends that the absence of role models isn't the problem, per se, rather it is the lack of opportunity which has minimized the visibility of certain individuals who might be seen as role models. Basic analysis of survey data shows that while students are motivated and influenced by others, supportive family members and teachers are taking the lead in promoting student interests and aspirations in the visual and imaging arts.
Department, Program, or Center
Master of Science of Secondary Education of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (NTID)
Russotti, Patricia - Chair
Ford, Allen, "Visual & imaging arts at RIT: a survey of NTID and CIAS students" (2005). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus