E-learning Deaf Studies Signed Languages Accessibility European collaboration
Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited
Lorraine Leeson and Haaris Sheikh ‘SIGNALL: A European Partnership Approach to Deaf Studies via New Technologies’ www.signallproject.eu, Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited, January 2009
This paper presents preliminary outcomes of a European Commission
funded project which brings together industry, academics and practitioners in an
innovative project to create an international forum of learning. SIGNALL II builds
on the successes of SIGNALL I (a Leonardo da Vinci project). It is promoted by
Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited partnered with the Centre for Deaf Studies,
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), Irish Deaf Society (Ireland), Finnish Association of
the Deaf (Finland), University of Sussex (UK), the Foundation for the Promotion of
Entrepreneurship, Lodz, (Poland) and Grant Advisor, Brno (Czech Republic).
SIGNALL 2 aims to utilise the experience, results, partnership alliances and the
relationships built up with supporters and user groups from SIGNALL I and to
develop an accredited digital course on Perspectives on Deafness (POD).
Accreditation leads to the transfer of credit points (under the European Credit
Transfer System) amongst participating third level educational establishments
promoting international mobility in education and the transparency of
qualifications. Experiential and evidenced-based material will illustrate experiences
of deafness by using digitised case studies and video materials. The course will be
offered as a distance-learning programme with fully accessible (signed, subtitled)
course content in each partner country on-line. This is essential given that Deaf people are the most under-represented group accessing third level education (e.g.
Leeson 2007, Conroy 2006), and is challenging given the linguistic diversity of the
European Union. For example, signed languages differ from territory to territory,
even where spoken languages are the same (i.e. Britain and Ireland have very
different natural signed languages – British Sign Language and Irish Sign
The core content for the ‘Perspectives on Deafness’ course has been created by the
Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) at Trinity College Dublin. CDS has actively engaged
in the development of digital learning assets to support traditional delivery of
programmes, and are actively engaged in the development of blended learning
diplomas and degrees. European perspectives are added, allowing for the
exploration of shared – and differing- experiences of Deafhood (Ladd 2003) across
Europe as well as notions of d/Deafness as a medical, social, cultural, and historical
construct. Human rights perspectives are also explored in this wide reaching
This paper outlines the background to the development of this course, outlining
rationale, content, creation of digital materials, the nature of international
involvement and the challenges to creating a repository of digital courseware that
will be accessible and relevant to Deaf and hearing students and employers across
the European Union, and beyond.
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