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Project IFADS

Increasing FIRST Awareness In Deaf Schools

IFADS is a project our team created to help us reach one of our most important goals: introduce Deaf students to the world of FIRST. After moving into our shop space in NJSD’s old welding shop in 2007, we created a joint team with students from both Ewing High School (EHS) and the New Jersey School for the Deaf - Katzenbach Campus (NJSD). As the number of Deaf students on the team increased, it became apparent that the Deaf Community is in many ways isolated and would benefit greatly from exposure to FIRST.


  • Making Connections: Since 2008, we have been actively identifying as many U.S. schools for the Deaf as possible and sending them information on FIRST programs, encouraging them to participate. To date we have sent out more than 500 letters and e-mails making many new connections, including members of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), individual state DOE boards and enthusiastic teachers.

  •  Kickoff Closed Captioning (CC): Experience with members of our team led us to realize that FIRST events have not been Deaf person friendly. Imagine if you could, watching Kickoff in silence without benefit of CC. As a result, we started a campaign and succeeded in getting FIRST to make it easier to get CC for Kickoff starting in 2010.

  • Sign Interpreters: Another long term campaign concentrated on FIRST Board of Directors, Regional Directors, and Regional Planning Committee Directors to obtain sign language interpreters for all regional competitions and championships. As a result, FIRST has formally agreed to provide interpreters when needed. In past years, we have provided these services through our team’s efforts wherever we competed.

  • Traveling Ambassadors: In 2011, we drove “Ambassadors” close to 400 miles to the Maryland School for the Deaf while they hosted the American Society for Deaf Children biannual Conference. We presented our team as an example of what can be accomplished with passion and hard work.

  • Local Ambassadors: NJSD routinely hosts Eastern Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association sports tournaments. We participate every year at NJSD annual picnics by showing off our robot and distributing information. We take advantage of these events to educate visiting teachers, students, parents, and administrators of the benefits of FIRST.

  • Deaf Fest: On September of 2013, we sent Ambassadors to the New Jersey Deaf Fest. This all day event is conducted every other year, and is dedicated to bringing together deaf residents of N.J. to find out about services and programs aimed at helping them. It was an honor to represent NJSD at this prestigious event.

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