Our project on the peer-to-peer teaching of deaf literacy, entitled "Literacy development with deaf communities using sign language, peer tuition, and learner-generated online content: sustainable educational innovation” is a collaboration with Lancaster University, funded through a joint scheme by the Education and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID). This £125,000, one-year pilot project allows us to study new ways of teaching literacy to deaf learners, alongside project partners including the Uganda National Association of the Deaf, Lancaster University Ghana, and the National Institute for Speech and Hearing. TESOL scholars from the School of Language, Literature and International Studies here at UCLan are part of the team along with experts in applied sign linguistics, deaf studies, cross-cultural literacy research, and learning technology.
This study builds on work from two previous projects: Distance Education for Sign Language Users, part of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative; and Education Partnerships in Africa, funded by the British Council.
The distance education project launched an English Learning Platform, an e-environment which caters to the needs of deaf students to acquire written English through sign language.
Through Education Partnerships in Africa, we focussed on joint capacity building for deaf students, HE partners and deaf organisations to develop literacy and academic skills, improve access to the workplace and the availability of sign language interpreters, and create new job profiles in applied sign language studies.
The Peer-to-Peer Deaf Literacy project aims to discover and explore new ways of teaching English to members of disadvantaged deaf communities in India, to improve the quality of educational outcomes for learner groups who may not derive adequate benefit from traditional interventions. Instead of traditional language teaching, this project takes a learner-driven, functional and ethnographic approach, exploiting a virtual/mobile learning platform and supporting deaf peer tutors to develop their own materials and strategies, including teaching through sign language. Learners will focus on functional aspects of English, which means using it to do everyday things such as sending texts. The project also involves small-scale investigative fieldwork in Ghana and Uganda, to examine transferability across cultures and pave the way for future collaborations. Led by deaf research assistants in the three countries, Peer-to-Peer Deaf Literacy will reveal new practices and interventions that policy makers can use to improve education, literacy and empowerment in deaf communities. Adaptation of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for the expression of learning outcomes will allow achievements to be expressed in terms of an internationally understood tool.
June 2015 to June 2016
For further information about this project, please contact Prof Ulrike Zeshan:
International Institute for Sign Languages & Deaf Studies
Vernon Annexe- VE028
+44 (0)1772 893104
Julia Gillen, Lancaster University
Uta Papen, Lancaster University
Karin Tusting, Lancaster University
Phil Tubman, Lancaster University
Daniel Waller, UCLan
Sibaji Panda, UCLan
Phil Howarth, UCLan
Jenny Webster, UCLan
Rita Fan Huhua, UCLan (PhD student)
Denmark, C. (2013) ‘The Impact of an Interactive Learning Platform on the Learning of English as a Second Language by Young Deaf Indian Sign Language Users.’ MA by Research thesis submitted to the University of Central Lancashire.
Sahasrabudhe, S. (2010) Online elementary-level English literacy programme for young deaf adults using Indian Sign Language. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.