Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies: research into a sustainable approach to education of Deaf children and young adults in the Global South

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Int Inst for Sign Lang and Deaf Studies

Abstract

The exclusion of deaf children and young adults from access to school systems in the developing world results in individuals and communities being denied quality education; this not only leads to unemployment, underemployment, low income, and a high risk of poverty, but also represents a needless waste of human talent and potential. To target this problem, this project extends work conducted under a pilot project addressing issues of literacy education with young deaf people in the Global South. Creating, implementing and evaluating our innovative intervention based on the peer teaching of English literacy through sign language-based tutoring, everyday real life texts such as job application forms, and the use of a bespoke online resource, enabled us to generate a sustainable, cost-effective and learner-directed way to foster literacy learning amongst deaf individuals. To reach further target groups and conduct more in-depth research, the present project extends our work to new groups of learners in India, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and Nepal, both in primary schools (ca 60 children in India, Ghana, and Uganda) and with young adult learners (ca 100 learners in interventions, plus ca 60 young adults in scoping workshops in Nepal and Rwanda).

In the targeted countries, marginalisation begins in schools, since many have no resources for teaching through sign language, even though this is the only fully accessible language to a deaf child. This project intends to examine how we can change some of the dynamics that contribute to this, by involving deaf individuals in the design of new teaching approaches, and by using children and young people's everyday experiences and existing literacy practices as the basis for their learning. Participants in such a programme will not only develop English literacy, but "multiliteracies", i.e. skills in sign languages, technology, written English, gesture, mouthing, and other forms of multimodal communication. Developing a multilingual toolkit is an essential element of multiliteracies. Being 'literate' in the modern world involves a complex set of practices and competencies and engagement with various modes (e.g. face-to-face, digital, remote), increasing one's abilities to act independently. Our emphases on active learning, contextualised assessments and building portfolios to document progress will increase the benefit to deaf learners in terms of their on-going educational and employment capacity.

Apart from the actual teaching and interventions, the research also investigates factors in existing systems of educational provisions for deaf learners and how these may systematically undermine and isolate deaf communities and their sign languages. Our analyses will identify the local dynamics of cultural contexts that our programmes and future initiatives need to address and evaluate in order to be sustainable. One challenge we encountered in the pilot was the lack of trained deaf peer tutors. There is a need for investment in local capacity building and for the creation of opportunities and pathways for deaf people to obtain formal qualifications. Therefore, at least four deaf project staff will enrol on an MA programme in Applied Linguistics/TESOL at our partner institution in India. We will develop training in literacy teaching and in research methods for all deaf project staff.

We will also develop and adapt appropriate assessment tools and metrics to confirm what learning has taken place and how, with both children and young adults. This includes adapting the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for young deaf adult learners and the 'Language Ladder' for deaf children so that we use locally-valid test criteria. To document progress in more detail and in relation to authentic, real life literacy demands we need to create our own metrics, which we will do by using portfolio based assessments that are learner-centred and closely linked to the local curricula.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of the research are primarily young deaf people in India, Uganda, Ghana, Nepal and Rwanda, who are subject to systemic disadvantage in each context and are in need of experience and knowledge in a mixture of literacy skills, including in English, digital literacies, local sign languages, and multimodal communication. Policy makers and educators will also benefit from the study, as it will help them to more effectively harness the abilities of this group and facilitate better educational access for them, improving these governments' capacity to achieve their aims of educational inclusion for all and meet the requirements of the UNCRPD.
The impact of our project will constitute firstly an increase in actors' agency in their contexts, especially those from signing communities, through a range of capacity building activities, and secondly the forging of influential South-South collaborations. These partnerships shall be based on instrumental improvements like exploiting learner-driven technology, communication through sign language and learner-centric assessment for literacy pedagogy; they will also involve dedicated work on conceptual policy-related impacts by an international team of academics.
These two types of benefit, instrumental and conceptual, require engagement with both the target learner groups and the academics, officials and educators who have influence over policy in each of the contexts. UCLan has already begun engaging with the target learner groups in India, Ghana and Uganda through the pilot, and more recently has worked to increase the Indian deaf community's research skills and capacity, through a 10-day workshop on deaf-led research with 22 deaf participants in June 2016, including most of the project staff from the pilot. Preparation meetings, which have helped the team to target our beneficiaries and develop the strategic routes toward reaching them, were held with deaf organisations and other stakeholders and prospective partners in September 2016 (see Pathways to Impact).
A working group on analysing educational systems of language and literacy provision, focussing on the dynamics of exclusion and barriers to innovation both contextually and generally, will report twice during the project and contribute to the final reporting. To ensure involvement of our learner groups in the conceptual impacts as well, we will run a series of multi-stakeholder participatory workshops (following the framework known as 'collaboratories'). These collaboratories are workshops for up to 60 cross-sectoral project participants that embed systematic engagement into the study by making use of creative facilitation methods to move from vision to action. Their outcomes are reported through multimedia case studies, encompassing video (e.g. short documentaries and interviews), plain English text, and visual stills (e.g. posters and slides). We will produce at least six systematically curated multimedia case studies, based on experiences from the pilot project which had used video-based research documentation effectively.
The increased agency and capacity building is intended to exceed mere incidental learning acquired in project work, and seeks to make concrete provision for suitable individuals from our target beneficiary groups to embark on an academic career, by enabling at least four research assistants to enrol in Amity University's MA programme in Applied Linguistics/TESOL.
We will also develop upskilling activities for all deaf staff a six-month part-time training and development programme. This programme will be further developed into a curriculum for a one-year certificate course to be submitted to the Rehabilitation Council of India for accreditation, thereby enabling deaf sign language users to gain professional accreditation as "Language and literacy trainers" in India.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This project has only been running for half a year, but it is already generating impacts. We have met twice with members of the Rehabilitation Council of India to discuss the development of a curriculum for of one year diploma course for deaf "Language and Literacy Trainers". This was initiated in the preceding pilot project and is being carried forward now. This intended course is a new employment opportunity for deaf sign language users, as well as contributing to enhanced education for deaf children and young adults. Secondly, a member of the project advisory committee gave a presentation about our research on deaf literacy/multiliteracies at a workshop co-organised by several departments of central Indian government and DFID India. This workshop "Paving ways for skilling 'People with Different Abilities'" aimed to collect best practice in the area of employment-relevant skills for people with disabilities. After the workshop, the organisers requested a project summary from the PI as input towards a national strategy on skills development for people with disabilities.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Presentation at workshop by central Indian government and DFID India on: "Paving ways for skilling 'People with Different Abilities'", aiming at best practice for skill development and employment opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Deaf Multiliteracies project partnership 
Organisation Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women
PI Contribution The partners are carrying out the project together. We have designed and delivered training for project staff from the three countries (India, Ghana, Uganda). We also provide academic expertise on deaf literacy and multiliteracies to the partners for their in-country research.
Collaborator Contribution The NGO partners are using their networks to implement field sites for the project's research. The University partners contribute their expertise on the educational systems of their countries, including special education.
Impact This project has only recently started (as of September 2017) so there aren't any outputs yet. The partnership is multi-disciplinary, with colleagues from linguistics at University of Central Lancashire and Ghana University, from ethnography and literacy studies at Lancaster University, and from disability studies at Makerere University.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Deaf Multiliteracies project partnership 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The partners are carrying out the project together. We have designed and delivered training for project staff from the three countries (India, Ghana, Uganda). We also provide academic expertise on deaf literacy and multiliteracies to the partners for their in-country research.
Collaborator Contribution The NGO partners are using their networks to implement field sites for the project's research. The University partners contribute their expertise on the educational systems of their countries, including special education.
Impact This project has only recently started (as of September 2017) so there aren't any outputs yet. The partnership is multi-disciplinary, with colleagues from linguistics at University of Central Lancashire and Ghana University, from ethnography and literacy studies at Lancaster University, and from disability studies at Makerere University.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Deaf Multiliteracies project partnership 
Organisation Makerere University
Country Uganda 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The partners are carrying out the project together. We have designed and delivered training for project staff from the three countries (India, Ghana, Uganda). We also provide academic expertise on deaf literacy and multiliteracies to the partners for their in-country research.
Collaborator Contribution The NGO partners are using their networks to implement field sites for the project's research. The University partners contribute their expertise on the educational systems of their countries, including special education.
Impact This project has only recently started (as of September 2017) so there aren't any outputs yet. The partnership is multi-disciplinary, with colleagues from linguistics at University of Central Lancashire and Ghana University, from ethnography and literacy studies at Lancaster University, and from disability studies at Makerere University.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Deaf Multiliteracies project partnership 
Organisation Uganda National Association of the Deaf
Country Uganda 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The partners are carrying out the project together. We have designed and delivered training for project staff from the three countries (India, Ghana, Uganda). We also provide academic expertise on deaf literacy and multiliteracies to the partners for their in-country research.
Collaborator Contribution The NGO partners are using their networks to implement field sites for the project's research. The University partners contribute their expertise on the educational systems of their countries, including special education.
Impact This project has only recently started (as of September 2017) so there aren't any outputs yet. The partnership is multi-disciplinary, with colleagues from linguistics at University of Central Lancashire and Ghana University, from ethnography and literacy studies at Lancaster University, and from disability studies at Makerere University.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Deaf Multiliteracies project partnership 
Organisation University of Ghana
Country Ghana 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The partners are carrying out the project together. We have designed and delivered training for project staff from the three countries (India, Ghana, Uganda). We also provide academic expertise on deaf literacy and multiliteracies to the partners for their in-country research.
Collaborator Contribution The NGO partners are using their networks to implement field sites for the project's research. The University partners contribute their expertise on the educational systems of their countries, including special education.
Impact This project has only recently started (as of September 2017) so there aren't any outputs yet. The partnership is multi-disciplinary, with colleagues from linguistics at University of Central Lancashire and Ghana University, from ethnography and literacy studies at Lancaster University, and from disability studies at Makerere University.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboratory workshop on bilingual teaching and learning with sign language and literacy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact The aim of this workshop was to support teaching and learning where Indian Sign Language is used alongside reading and writing, as part of the research project which aims to test innovative models of education. The workshop will addressed the questions where we can find good bilingual teaching and learning initiatives in India that use sign language and literacy, and how such initiatives and programmes could work together to support each other? This event was not a conventional workshop but followed the recent framework of a "collaborator". Participants were working together actively to create a shortlist of ideas for positive actions, and then formed teams to work on selected project ideas. This led to several concrete work plans for future implementable ideas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://islandscentre.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/deaf-multiliteracies-outcomes-from-our-first-collabor...
 
Description Presentation at the 12th Odisha Deaf Awareness Symposium-2017 & 25th Silver Jubilee Celebration of Kalahandi District Association of the Deaf, Odisha, India. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact 250 participants from all over the state of Odisha received information about research approaches to literacy and multi-literacies development with deaf sign language users. Two team members gave a presentation on "Peer to Peer Deaf Multitliteracies Project". As the presentation was given in Indian Sign Language, this was a rare opportunity for the deaf participants to receive an up-to-date briefing about research in an accessible language.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at the National Conference on Education, Human Rights, Advocacy and Women Empowerment for the Deaf, Rourkela, India 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact A project member presented on "Peer to Peer Deaf Literacy Pilot and Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies Project". 400 participants from all over India received information about research approaches to literacy and multi-literacies development with deaf sign language users. As the presentation was given in Indian Sign Language, this was a rare opportunity for the deaf participants to receive an up-to-date briefing about research in an accessible language.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Project launch event for "Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies" in New Delhi, India. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The project launch event included presentations and a screening of the pilot project's documentary movie "Deaf literacy from the grassroots". It was attended by 150 participants from a mix of different backgrounds, from different parts of India as well as Uganda, Ghana, and the UK. The launch event was followed by a meeting of the project's Indian Advisory Committee.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://islandscentre.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/transforming-deaf-learners-multiliteracies-into-susta...