Skip to content

READ WRITE EASY: two new academic volumes showcase our work on deaf multiliteracies

22 December, 2021

Empowering deaf people to improve their literacy skills has long been a cherished aim at iSLanDS, and we are delighted to announce two new volumes in the Ishara Research Series focusing on deaf multiliteracies. Edited by iSLanDS academics Jenny Webster and Ulrike Zeshan, the volumes are called READ WRITE EASY: Research, practice and innovation in deaf multiliteracies.

The publications feature contributions from an array of academics mostly based in the Global South, including several deaf early-career researchers. These contributors have ties with our longstanding programme of research activities (2015-2021) funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and the then Department for International Development (DfID).

(All publications in the Ishara Research Series are open access, which means that they are free to download. The links for PDFs of these volumes can be found further down the page.)

The latest volumes in the Ishara Research Series, which are edited by Jenny Webster and Ulrike Zeshan.

Each of the volumes is divided into two parts. The first contains research chapters covering topics such as the assessment of learners’ progress, pedagogical issues from teachers’ perspectives, and issues related to curricula. The second part features innovation sketches highlighting practices arising in the context of the research that break new ground; these are particularly relevant for practitioners interested in methodologies.

Our co-Director Ulrike Zeshan said, “It is particularly encouraging to have had more contributors from the Global South than from the North, as the balance is often the opposite in similar publications. It is hoped that this demonstration of outstanding Global South scholarship will be repeated in future academic publications.”

Jenny Webster, who edited the volumes with Zeshan, added: “We would like to join the contributors in acknowledging the involvement of all who have made these publications possible, especially the project participants, research team members and our partner institutes. Their dedication is even more remarkable given the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are very grateful.”

The two volumes (PDF format) can be accessed using the links below:

READ, WRITE, EASY: Research, practice and innovation in deaf multiliteracies (Volume 1) (2021). Jenny Webster & Ulrike Zeshan (Eds.) Ishara Research Series 5.

Featuring contributions by: Christian Jones, Julia Gillen, Eilidh Rose McEwan, Rebecca Olivia Nankinga, Nirav Pal, Uta Papen, Daniel Waller, Jenny Webster and Ulrike Zeshan.

READ, WRITE, EASY: Research, practice and innovation in deaf multiliteracies (Volume 2) (2021). Jenny Webster & Ulrike Zeshan (Eds.) Ishara Research Series 6.

Featuring contributions by: Noah Ahereza, George Akanlig-Pare, Sukanta K. Mahpatra, Deepu Manavalamamuni, Anthony Mugeere, Sibaji Panda, Uta Papen, Rajani Ranjan Singh, Rajiv Kumar Singh, Jenny Webster and Ulrike Zeshan.

This is our last blogpost of 2021. We would like to take this opportunity to wish our readers a restful end-of-year break and a happy and healthy 2022!

iSLanDS takes part in linguistics training for Japanese deaf people

8 December, 2021

Our co-Director, Nick Palfreyman, has participated in three live online workshops for Japanese deaf people, with the aim of sharing knowledge on sign language linguistics.

The sessions, which have been organised by the Japanese Sign Language Teachers Center ( are part of an initiative to train sign language interpreters, especially Deaf interpreters.

Nick with participants and organisers from the Japanese Sign Language Teachers Center.

The sessions covered different semantic and grammatical domains, including examples from different sign languages round the world.

Nick said, ‘It was a great pleasure to work with this group. They are all highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and I thoroughly enjoyed our dialogue on sign language research. It is good to see the Japanese Sign Language Teachers Center building the capacity of members of the Japanese deaf community in this way’.

Yoko Yuyuma, from the Japanese Sign Language Teachers Centre, said, ‘I was impressed that most of the students understood Nick’s linguistic explanations in International Sign (IS). Nick’s IS was very visual and his way of signing was logical and helped us understand easily. Through these workshops, I also learned about the possibility of communicating at the academic level using IS’.

iSLanDS co-Director and Herbert Klein join Expert Group on Disaster Risk Reduction

26 November, 2021

Earlier this week, iSLanDS received a visit from Herbert Klein, Honorary President of the British Society for Mental Health and Deafness, to discuss resilience and disaster risk reduction.

Herbert, who worked in the NHS for over thirty years on deaf mental health, has visited Indonesia several times over the last few years to share knowledge and skills on mental health awareness.

The purpose of Herbert’s visit to iSLanDS this week was twofold. He advised on a research cluster activity, Building Deaf Resilience in Indonesia, which is supported by UCLan’s Institute on Citizenship, Society and Change and also features UCLan staff members Dr. Sarita Robinson and Professor Helen Spandler.

Herbert also discussed Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) with iSLanDS co-Director Nick Palfreyman, because both have just been appointed to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) Expert Group on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The Expert Group aims to provide technical aid and expert advice to the WFD Secretariat and WFD Ordinary Members.

Nick has experience of working with the Indonesian deaf community on DRR activities from his time as a VSO volunteer in Central Java (2007-2009), while Herbert has developed a strong network in this area over the past few years.

Herbert and Nick discuss Disaster Risk Reduction.

During their discussions, they met online with deaf PhD student Leyla Craig, based at the University of Sydney, and PUPET chair Muhammad Isnaini.

Nick said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome Herbert to iSLanDS, and we are grateful to him for sharing his impressive knowledge of mental health issues and disaster risk reduction.

“We hope that this will be the first of several visits from Herbert, so that we can continue to develop our collaboration on resilience and DRR.”

iSLanDS celebrates as its tenth research student passes her PhD examination

26 May, 2021

PhD candidate Eilidh Rose McEwan has passed her viva with minor amendments, making her the tenth postgraduate student to be awarded a research degree at the iSLanDS Institute.

Eilidh’s PhD project, The Capabilities of Deaf People in Development Projects in the Global South, began in July 2017 and examines the capabilities realisation of deaf colleagues in the ESRC/DfID-funded Peer-to-Peer Deaf Multiliteracies project. Throughout her studies, Eilidh worked with research assistants and peer tutors from India, Uganda and Ghana who were teaching a range of multiliteracies skills to deaf learners.

In her thesis, Eilidh argues that the capabilities approach brings important insights for deaf studies scholars interested in empowerment. Equally, her focus on deaf people in the Global South offers fresh challenges to theories linked with capabilities.

Eilidh said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have passed the PhD viva, and I look forward to sharing my findings in different ways, as well as continuing with research on empowerment in the field of deaf studies in future. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the PhD, and especially the participants in India, Uganda and Ghana.”

We are delighted to have supported so many talented deaf individuals at iSLanDS, and it is fantastic to watch as our alumni have gone on to lead ground-breaking research projects around the world.

Prof. Ulrike Zeshan, founder of the iSLanDS Institute

iSLanDS co-director Nick Palfreyman, who is Eilidh’s Director of Studies, noted that there is little research on how international development projects can best work with deaf people to flourish. Nick said: “This research is an important contribution to the discourse on agency and capabilities, and shines a light on an under-explored area of practice. Eilidh’s findings will be of great interest to International NGOs, but also to deaf community organisations as they continue in their struggle for equality.”

iSLanDS alumni (clockwise, from top-left): Sunil Sahasrabudhe, Clark Denmark, Sara Lanesman,
Sam Lutalo-Kiingi, Nick Palfreyman, Rita Huhua Fan, Paul Scott, Keiko Sagara and Hasan Dikyuva.

Eilidh is the tenth research student to have graduated at iSLanDS, and joins our international alumni, who now work with universities and organisations from Japan, India and Israel to Turkey, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Prof. Ulrike Zeshan, who founded iSLanDS in 2007, said: “We are delighted to have supported so many talented deaf individuals at iSLanDS, and it is fantastic to watch as our alumni have gone on to lead ground-breaking research projects around the world.”

The Ishara Research Series publishes a book on Serious Games

26 February, 2021

Research at iSLanDS on Peer-to-Peer Deaf Literacy/Multiliteracies has resulted in an ebook in the Ishara Research Series, Serious Games in Co-creative Facilitation: Experiences from Cross-sectoral work with Deaf communities. A Serious Game is a game used for purposes other than entertainment, for example education or awareness raising. In our research, Serious Games were used for the facilitation of events with diverse groups of education practitioners, deaf community members, NGOs, and academics from different countries.


This Open Access ebook, written by iSLanDS director Prof. Ulrike Zeshan, explains the effects of Serious Games on group communication and interactions for working in co-creative ways in a supportive environment. Several case studies show how such games can be embedded within a series of activities in events. The book includes an appendix with detailed step-by-step instructions for all games, which practitioners will find useful.

The ebook is available here through Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN).