Lorraine Leeson, Brian Nolan and John Bosco Conama, TOWARDS BLENDED LEARNING FOR DEAF STUDIES AT THIRD LEVEL IN IRELAND, EDULEARN09 Proceedings CD, EDULEARN 2009, Barcelona, Spain, 6-9 July 2009, ISBN: 978-84-612-980, 2009
Irish Sign Language (ISL), an indigenous language of Ireland, is recognized by the EU as a
natural language. It is a language separate from the other languages used in Ireland, including
English, Irish, and, in Northern Ireland, British Sign Language. Some 6,500 Deaf people use ISL
on the island of Ireland. Deaf people are the most under-represented of all disadvantaged groups
at third level, posing two challenges: (1) getting Deaf people into third level and (2) presenting
education in an accessible form. Two institutions, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the Institute
for Technology, Blanchardstown, Dublin (ITB) have partnered to create a unique elearning
environment based on MOODLE as the learning management system, in the delivery of Deaf
Studies programmes at TCD. We deliver third level programmes to students online to resolves
problems of time, geography and access, maximizing multi-functional uses of digital assets
across our programmes. Signed languages are visual-gestural languages and online content is
required to be multi-modal in nature and utilize rich-media learning objects. This presents many
important challenges, including (1) Universal design in an online curriculum for Deaf students , (2)
Assessing signed language interpreting skill in an online context, (3) Using the Signs of Ireland
corpus in blended learning contexts in a MOODLE environment and (4) Issues of assessment in
an elearning context. In this paper, we introduce the Irish Deaf community and their language; the
educational context that leads to disadvantage and negative outcomes in employment and our
work to date in developing accessible elearning for Deaf Studies programmes at TCD.
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