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Interest in Graphic Design Brings Hearing-Impaired Student to ORAU on Disability Mentoring Day

Oct. 25, 2006

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Andrew Parker is like most high school seniors. He is busy balancing his studies and an active social schedule, and he leads his school's football team as quarterback. However, Parker is differently-abled; he is hearing-impaired. But this hasn't stopped Parker in pursuing his interests.

Students watching graphic designer work

Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Graphic Designer Susan Jacques (seated) shows Tennessee School for the Deaf high school senior Andrew Parker (standing, right) and his interpreter, Jeff Palmer (standing, left), a set of design documents based on ORAU’s corporate identity standards. Parker, who is interested in a graphic design career, visited the organization in October for Disability Mentoring Day—a day that gives students insight into the profession of their choice. High-resolution version of photo

A student at the Tennessee School for the Deaf (TSD), Parker took a class in graphic design and discovered he wanted to learn more. Through the American Association of People with Disabilities' Disability Mentoring Day (DMD), Parker was given the opportunity to get a first-hand look at a day-in-the-life of a graphic designer, and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Multimedia Manager Mark Sieger was more than happy to show Parker the ropes.

"In addition to pairing Andrew with several artists to get a sense of their day-to-day work load, I felt it was important for him to also get a feel for the numerous other components that are part of a designer's responsibility," Sieger said, "such as client and vendor communication, assembly, research and much more."

DMD is a nationwide event where agencies and corporations invite young people with various disabilities to "job shadow" with them in their area of interests. The goal of DMD is to have students walk away with a visual framework of how their chosen profession works.

"I learned a lot," Parker said. Unlike his expectations of this field, what Parker found in the shadowing opportunity was that "graphic design involves everything from photography to the use of various computer programs, writers and designers. everything."

After Parker graduates TSD in the spring of 2007, he plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology's National Institute for the Deaf in New York.

For more information on the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability Mentoring Day, visit

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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