Deaf Ed Members on FRC/FTC Teams

This is my first time posting so please bear with me…

I am a member of FRC 5242 in Dallas, Texas and we have several deaf members on our team from being the only high school that has accommodations for deaf and hard-of-hearing.

The only other teams we know with deaf members are FRC 5682 and 3223. We are trying to work to make FIRST robotics teams more accessible, but in order to do so we need more teams.

If you guys know any teams with deaf/hard-of-hearing/visually impaired people, please let me know!
Also, if you think this post would go better in another thread please tell me.

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Team 2016 Mighty Monkey Wrenches are another.
Here is a link to their page.

Hope this is some help. :slight_smile:


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Check out Team 6536, The DarkSide from the Iowa Braille School. They are predominantly visually impaired. I was at the Iowa Regional with these guys their rookie year, they were very impressive.


This is a cool thread. This is actually something we’ve been talking about as we look towards the future and creating a second team (no, I really don’t know what that fully means yet*).

Our host school, NCSSM, is opening a second campus in the state for expansion in 2021 and is going to be sharing a campus with the NC School for the Deaf in Morganton, NC. I believe they already have a couple FTC teams.

This is a great thread for resource sharing and networking. Any tips or thoughts to share are appreciated by us as we will be getting into this at some point.

*The plan right now is to have a second team. It will also be a community team and likely combine several schools as well as students from across the state. It might “The Zebracorns 2” or it might be it’s own unique horse of a different type. Who knows?

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A Zorse?

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FRC 1991 had hearing impaired members. When they won an award the audience cheered them in sign language. One of the best memories I ever had in my 18 years in FIRST.


FRC 5417 in Allen Texas has a visually impaired student.

FRC 3162 was a team filled with hearing impaired students who participated at FLR in 2010. They were affiliated with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT.

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Interesting to see this thread. We have a student working at the Kansas School for the Blind this summer, and it came back that she had some interest from them to get into FIRST. So I’ve been putting in some research, and was glad to learn about 6536 as someone that has done this before. Also, I am looking more into the Level Up program by Envision, that is a summer camp for visually impaired that is involved with GoBabyGo and other STEM activities.

First post here; made an account just for this. Anyways, I am deaf, and of the 10 or so people on my team (7492), 3 are classified as disabled.


While not FRC, a teammate (now alum) of my team started an FTC team at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind. They now have two FTC teams, an FLL team (next year), and have thought about doing FRC

Continuing the mini-revival of this thread, I remember accommodations for the deaf in FIRST being something that Team 66 Grizzly Robotics out of Ypsilanti, MI knows quite a bit about.

I believe Grizzly continues to this day to have interpreters at every competition. (I believe they are a mentor) I also believe one of their drive team members was deaf/hearing impaired, but I can’t remember what year. They incorporate the “accommodation” into a lot of what they do.

You should try to contact them. They are an extremely active team. I sure they could give a lot of great examples of how they’ve developed it as a part of their team culture.

FTC 273 - Tech tigers From the American school for the deaf has hearing impaired members.

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Note: I am legally deaf, but would, in this case, be considered hearing impaired since I can function normally with hearing aids.

First things first: I’m so glad you’re seizing the opportunity to be a part of FRC and thank you for popping onto this thread since I’m sure your insight will be incredibly valuable into this. Welcome to CD <3

If you wouldn’t mind, could you share some of your thoughts on what the best ways to include deaf and hard-of-hearing students both on a team and at events? How does a mentor best ensure that their students are receiving communications regardless of hearing ability? What are some things a team can do that make a deaf/hard-of-hearing student feel welcome when they first join? As a community team we aren’t directly linked with a high school with accommodations so we don’t have resources in place that come from the school but I’d love to be ready should we have someone join who needs those resources.

Hello, I’m a mentor with team 66. We have one student who is hearing impaired that has interpreters with her for school related activities. She is not limited in participation in the program. All of the other members on the team know to look directly at and speak with a bit more elocution than normal, because she reads lips as well. If she needs clarification, the interpreters fill in the blanks. There are a couple other adults and mentors that know ASL well enough to get the point across if the interpreters are not around yet that day. Some of the kids have also started to pick up ASL.
She’s one of the scouting leads, build/fab crew, took over the field element building this year, works at demonstrations, mentors junior FLL and was the on-field rep for alliance selections. This year, she and another student were asked to be a part of the introduction at the Showcase in Detroit. When we went to St. Louis for Steamworks, we talked to FIRST and got Interpreter badges for the two that traveled with us, so they could stand down closer to the field for translating game info and the award ceremony. They go with us to all the competitions, and have become a normal part of the team.

If you’d like to hear more from her perspective, I can put you in touch.


Sure, I’d love to talk about including other hearing impaired people in FIRST!
First, though, I would like to clarify that there is no end-all, be-all answer to what you would need to do to make a hearing impaired person feel comfortable in the team. However, it is crucial that, as a mentor, you connect with them early on and make sure they have everything they need to communicate. The number one thing you can do to help a hearing impaired person inside and outside of robotics, is make sure they know you and the rest of the team cares.
Each person has different ways of dealing with their hearing impairment and the communication barriers that go along with it, and make sure the team knows what they need. For me, I told the team early on that I did not want them to try to change their way of speaking for me, because in most cases it makes it far more difficult to understand, and if I needed them to talk a little more loudly or anything, I would tell them or ask them to repeat themselves. I was fortunate enough to have a longtime friend of mine join with me, so if needed, he was familiar enough with me that we could communicate easily, and the team was small enough that they were al able to get to know me personally and familiarize themselves with it.
One thing to be aware of, though, is that many people avoid speaking up out of embarrassment or other reasons, so make sure they know that it is perfectly acceptable to stop the speaker and ask them to speak more clearly or whatever else they may need. This is part of why it is so important for them to know the team cares about them and that they feel comfortable with who they are working with; because, speaking from experience, it is a whole lot harder for you to self-advocate to a stranger, since a lot of people (me included) do not like drawing attention to their disability. If it is perceived (or if they feel that it is being taken this way) in a negative light, where it can start to feel like an annoying interruption, is when it becomes particularly difficult to draw attention to yourself. This applies to the team as a whole; make sure everyone feels comfortable speaking up for any reason if they feel confused or need something. Communication is the key to creating a safe and comfortable environment for everyone.
Sorry for the long post, but let me know if you have any more questions. Thank you!