This 3 year project led by UCLan and the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre was launched on 1 July 2017 and is funded by the Education and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID), through their joint scheme Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems. The grant, for £436,000, extends a successful pilot examining innovative ways to teach literacy to deaf learners.

The project is led by Prof. Ulrike Zeshan, OBE, Director of UCLan’s International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies who explains, “We understand the longstanding problem of deaf people’s insufficient access to schools in the developing world, and their resulting lack of employment, income, life quality and fulfilment. Through this multinational study we will expand our pilot project’s cost-effective and learner-directed literacy teaching methods.” These methods have involved peer to peer teaching by local deaf tutors, supported by deaf research assistants in India, Ghana and Uganda.  In November 2017 Uta Papen is contributing to training in India, particularly focussing on English literacy and working with children.

The project is supported in the UK including through an online app Sign Language to English for the Deaf (SLEND) and the adaptation of appropriate assessment methods. The team is targeting new learner groups by investigating multiliteracies among deaf children and young adults in India, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and Nepal. In order to identify generalisable, flexible models that can be taken up by educational providers in the developing world, the project considers the similarities across educational systems in the different countries as well as the agency of deaf learners, researchers, tutors, and educators who implement the interventions. The UK project team includes Dr Daniel Waller, Phil Howarth and Jenny Webster at  UCLan and Phil Tubman, an LU Learning Technologist.  Project partners include the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women, the Rural Lifeline Trust, the University of Ghana, Makerere University and the Uganda National Association of the Deaf.