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Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies project completed

30 December, 2020

We are delighted to report that our three-year project on Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies (P2PDM) has been completed. The iSLanDS team would like to thank all project partners, staff, participants, and supporters who have worked with us on educational innovations with deaf learners.

To mark the conclusion of this project, we have produced a summary report of completed and forthcoming publications, including both P2PDM and its predecessor pilot project Peer to Peer Deaf Literacy. Work will continue on the related impact project, where we focus on training deaf professionals for roles in deaf education and creating teacher training resources based on sign language.

Deaf Literacy and Multiliteracies report on findings

Video documentations of our deaf multiliteracies work in India and Uganda

7 December, 2020

Our Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies teams are proud to release video documentations of our work in India and in Uganda. Over the course of this three-year project, we have worked with young deaf learners to find new ways for building skills in sign language, English literacy, digital literacies, meta-linguistic awareness, and communication technologies. Together, these skills are called “multiliteracies”.

Our deaf tutors have worked with young adults and primary school children at several partner institutions: In India, we have collaborated with the Happy Hands School for the Deaf in rural Odisha and with the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women in New Delhi. In Uganda, our work has been at the Uganda School for the Deaf, Ntinda and at the Uganda National Association of the Deaf.

The video documentations show the effects of a sign language environment with deaf tutors, theme-based learning generated by the whole group, and an emphasis on motivation and confidence to enable learning.

International Week of the Deaf – greetings from our Deaf Multiliteracies team

28 September, 2020

Our international Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies team have compiled this video to celebrate International Week of the Deaf. Watch the video for greetings from Uganda, Nepal, and India.

Peer to Peer Deaf Multiliteracies is a research programme where we establish new ecosystems of learning with deaf children and adults. Deaf tutors and sign language use are at the heart of these experiments.

Special issues on variation in the Asia-Pacific region and ideologies behind sign language vitality

21 August, 2020

We are delighted to note the arrival of two special issues involving our researchers this summer, which appear as issues of Asia Pacific Language Variation (APLV) and Language & Communication.

Sociolinguistic variation in Asia-Pacific sign languages

Our reader Nick Palfreyman has edited a special issue of APLV, entitled ‘Macro and micro-social variation in Asia-Pacific sign languages’. This issue presents contributions from deaf and hearing researchers who presented at the Symposium on sociolinguistic variation in signed and spoken languages of the Asia-Pacific region at UCLan last year.


Special issue 6:1 for APLV

The special issue covers several sign languages and linguistic practices across the Asia-Pacific region, and features the following articles:

The article abstracts are available in a relevant local language, such as Tok Pisin and Bahasa Indonesia, as well as English, in accordance with the policy of the journal. We are thrilled that the publisher, John Benjamins, also agreed to host video clips of the abstracts translated into a relevant signed language, such as Japanese Sign Language and International Sign.


Screen shots of the signed abstracts that accompany the special issue.

These video abstracts can be found on the website, by following the hyperlinks in the PDFs, or by clicking here for Reed (Auslan), Mudd et al. (International Sign), Palfreyman (International Sign) and Sagara & Palfreyman (Japanese Sign Language).

In his introduction to the special issue, Palfreyman notes that, thus far, sign language sociolinguists have focused strongly on variation at the macro-social level. By bringing micro-level variation to the table, the issue highlights the possibility of exploring how patterns at macro and micro-social levels relate to each other.

Nick added: “I would like to say a big thank you to the contributors for sharing their innovative work, and to the APLV editor Shobha Satyanath for her support. Further to this, both the symposium and the special issue would not have been possible without my fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2016-795).”

Ideologies behind the assessment of sign language vitality

Meanwhile, iSLanDS researcher Jenny Webster has written an article with Josefina Safar in another special issue, edited by Kristin Snoddon and Maartje De Meulder, for Language & Communication.

The article by Webster and Safar, which appears in the special issue ‘Ideologies in sign language vitality and revitalisation’, presents analysis based on a 2011 survey created by UNESCO and the iSLanDS Institute, and a more recent survey produced by UNESCO in 2018 with input from iSLanDS.

Webster and Safar highlight problems both with framing sign languages as part of endangerment ideologies and with depending on academic perspectives that diverge from the views of language communities themselves.

Our co-Director, Ulrike Zeshan, said “I’m delighted to see these publications. At iSLanDS we have long been pushing to explore endangered and under-documented sign languages.

“Through their painstaking research on sociolinguistic variation and endangered sign languages, Nick Palfreyman and Jenny Webster have produced impressive publications that move their respective fields forward, and add to our understanding of language practices and ideologies in non-Western sign languages.”

Day 4: training for deaf schoolteachers in West Java

21 May, 2020

Here at iSLanDS, promoting accessible deaf education is at the heart of our mission. Our next update gives the lowdown on a project to transfer knowledge and skills with deaf schoolteachers in West Java

The Little Hijabi deaf school, established in 2013, is the only school in Indonesia with a majority of deaf teachers on its staff. Founded by Galuh Sukmara, the children of the school learn using Indonesian Sign Language (BISINDO) – and have deaf role models, which is vital but often overlooked in deaf education.

Sandra David is a deaf teacher with nearly 30 years of experience teaching deaf children. More recently, she was assistant headteacher at Frank Barnes deaf school in London. For our project, Sandra is working with the teachers at The Little Hijabi to improve their teaching skills and offer the children an even better education in future.

In February, Sandra and iSLanDS reader, Nick Palfreyman, who is co-ordinating this project with PUPET (our deaf research hub), visited the school to observe the teaching and find out what the teachers want to learn. During her visit, Sandra produced three reports in British Sign Language, with English subtitles.

While observing the teachers, Sandra saw many examples of good practice, and shared these – along with some suggested changes that could be made – with school staff members.

Drawing on her observations and previous experiences of working in the global South, including India and Sri Lanka, Sandra also met with parents of deaf children who attend the school, to share information with them about the needs of deaf children.

The follow-up visit – to deliver a bespoke training course – was due to take place in July 2020, but will now be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will post another report on the iSLanDS blog with an update once that visit has taken place.

In the meantime, we are very grateful to the staff of The Little Hijabi for their welcome, and to Sandra David for sharing her expertise!

We would like to say a big thank you to UCLan and to a number of individuals who have generously supported this project financially – without them, this project would not have been possible.


Teachers at The Little Hijabi discuss changes to the school timetable