Technology is a seamless and integral part of the educational process at RSD. From the youngest child in preschool to a high school senior preparing for life after graduation, RSD is well-equipped technologically to play a vital role in enhancing student learning in all aspects of the curriculum. Since deaf children rely on visual access to learning and instruction, the impact of technology is crucial not only to the educational process, but for the independence and freedom it brings to daily life. Educational technology at RSD includes:
• Videophones, available campus-wide, allowing deaf and hard of hearing students and staff to have equal access to information. Visual messaging boards, used as a public address system for announcements, are found in every classroom and public areas.
• Digital Technology: To engage students in 21st century learning opportunities, the RSD Information Technology network is state-of-the-art and well-maintained. It provides for SMARTBoard displays in every classroom, computer labs and wireless access across the entire campus. Students who are assigned laptop computers use them to access instructional activities on Wikis provided by RSD teachers. Through iPad and iPod devices, teachers allow children to utilize apps to support instruction within content area classes. A powerful media server supports clear video streaming, blogs, vlogs, and Wikis for class lessons and student presentations.
• Video Production Studio: Here students produce news broadcasts, daily school announcements, and videos, using state-of-the-art video technology, captioning, and editing equipment. RSD student videos have been entered into film and video competitions across the country.
• Distance Learning Technology: Videoconferencing is utilized by teachers and students alike, to connect them with cultural institutions, other schools in the U.S. and abroad, and individuals who are experts and share their knowledge and excitement of their world with the RSD learning community through a visual medium.
• Multi-Sensory Sound Lab: RSD’s cutting edge, sound lab enables students to interactively experience sound through visual, tactile and auditory channels. Located in the Early Childhood Center, this room-sized array of instrumentation brings sound to life, making it concrete, real and highly enjoyable.
Ethical Practices Instruction
At the core of our ethical values is a youth ethics initiative called The Six Pillars of Character. These pillars form the foundation all interactions and professional relationships at RSD.
The Pillars include:
These attributes are derived from a Josephson Institute model entitled "Making Ethical Decisions."
Natural Helpers is a peer-helping program used across the United States. At RSD this program can be implemented among our high school students who want to strengthen their communication and helping skills, to provide support to others and service to their school and home communities.
The concept is based on the premise that within every school, there exists an informal helping network. Students with problems naturally seek out other students and occasionally teachers or staff whom they trust. The totally voluntary program provides ongoing training to those students and staff who are already perceived as natural helpers.
Career Development Occupational Studies (CDOS)
All RSD students participate in educational programs and activities that help them become knowledgeable about the world of work. They are also given the opportunity to explore career options, and relate personal skills aptitudes and abilities to future career decisions.
Students who express interest and aptitude in a specific career area will acquire the career-specific technical knowledge/skills necessary to progress toward gainful employment, career advancement, and success in postsecondary programs. CDOS classes and CDOS activities integrated into academic classes promote exploration and research into broad career areas of interest. Basic principles of career planning such as decision-making, self-evaluation, and goal-setting are included.
Teachers at RSD aspire to use a balanced literacy framework of activities in which students receive context embedded-exposure to the full range of literacy activities to enhance development. Teachers use opportunities for discussion, modeled reading and writing, word study including phonemic awareness, shared reading and writing, and skills instruction driven by the context of the learning situation. Teachers arrange instruction to suit the academic language and instructional needs of the students whom they teach.
One component of RSD's literacy instruction is the use of the Fairview Program. This program capitalizes on student strength in a primary language (ASL) to serve as a bridge to comprehension in English. For students whose primary language is not ASL, the Fairview Program teaches students in a fully accessible presentation the concepts behind English words and language. The components of Fairview provide instruction in basic sight word vocabulary, bridge phrases and phonemic awareness during reading comprehension lessons. The Fairview Program also includes expressive and receptive American Sign Language and English language development.
One of the truly distinguishing characteristics of RSD is the opportunity for students at every age group to be in contact with extraordinary adult Deaf role models. Students identify and relate to deaf professionals who are supportive, nurturing and inspiring.
To reinforce these important attributes, RSD integrates a formal deaf studies curriculum, which is completely aligned with New York State's Social Studies Curriculum standards.
Beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade, the curriculum incorporates the following:
- Deaf Identity
- American Deaf Culture
- American Sign Language
- Deaf History
- Social Change
- Technology and Communication
These study areas are supported by a comprehensive array of materials, events and the opportunity to meet highly accomplished deaf professionals including, artists, musicians, explorers and entrepreneurs.
Transition into the adult world presents challenges for all young people. This process is even more difficult for children with disabilities and requires strategies to enable each student to achieve the maximum possible independence in working, living and participating in the adult community. As part of the Individual Education Plan (IEP), students ages 14 to 21 are eligible for special education services. Our transition planning team creates a coordinated set of activities, designed to prepare students for successful outcomes.
Outcomes may include:
- Postsecondary education
- Vocational training
- Adult education and adult services
- Independent living
- Community participation
The set of activities for each student is based on the student's needs, preferences and interests. The activities must include instruction, community experiences, and development of employment or other post-school adult living objectives.