On the morning of June 5th, 1965, at a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, president Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law Public Law 89-36, paving the way for the creation of the first technical college for the deaf. This was not the start of the creation of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, but an important milestone in the creation of the new college.
The beginnings of the college can be traced back to the 1930's when Peter N. Peterson, a deaf vocational teacher at the Minnesota School for the Deaf suggested in an article titled "A Dream and a Possibility" that a "National Technical Institute for the Deaf ... is what deaf, young America needs more than anything else." (To this day, Peter N. Peterson has a dormitory hall named after him at NTID.)
After a long time in waiting, a Conference on Technical and Vocational Education for the Deaf was organized to present research and recommendations to congress. The group decided that a technical vocational college was needed, and that it needs to be done on a comparable scale to Gallaudet, the leading national university for the deaf. A proposal was drafted and sent to congress where it was unanimously passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Following the signing of the bill into law, the National Advisory Board was formed to ultimately select the location for the new college. Finalists were narrowed down to the University of Illinois, University of Pittsburgh, University of Tennessee, and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). At the beginning of October 1966, the committee announced that it had selected the Rochester Institute of Technology as its location. Groundbreaking was held soon after, and construction began on what would become the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) building on the RIT/NTID campus.
In September of 1968, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf opened its doors, and the first 71 students began their studies at the new school. By 1980, the number of students enrolled at the college would increase to 940. In 1974, the Robert F. Panara Theatre opened its doors with a production of "The Taming of the Shrew". In 1981, the interpreting program became part of NTID's Communication Center, and classes were added in sign language interpretation, as well as expanded interpreting services for students and faculty throughout the campus.
The most notable developments of the past decade include the opening of a new center for the arts in the former atrium of the building, addition of "smart classrooms" that incorporate technology and new teaching tools, and the installation of Dr. Robert Davila first deaf President of NTID, and Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, new deaf vice president and dean of the college.