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Deaf Ghanaians and Ugandans share expertise at peer-to-peer literacy workshop

1 October, 2015
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We would like to thank our peer-to-peer deaf literacy project participants in Uganda and Ghana, who energetically contributed to last week’s workshops led by our deaf research assistants. Their efforts mark an important milestone in this unprecedented international pilot project, funded by the ESRC and DFID.

In Ghana, more than a dozen deaf participants from the eastern region gathered at our partner institution Lancaster University Ghana, including students, deaf teachers and deaf association members. In a workshop led by Ghanaian research assistant Marco Nyarko, they were introduced to the project aims and the SLEND, and participated in a clock activity and group interviews, which were filmed. In the clock activity, each participant draws a clock face and adds to it the different ways they used literacy at various times throughout the previous day, for example reading a newspaper at 8am.

Research assistant Marco Nyarko explains SLEND, the project's literacy platform

Research assistant Marco Nyarko explains SLEND, the project’s literacy platform

Mr Nyarko, who coordinates the project work in Ghana, commented: “The clock activity and group interview were both successful, and the resulting filmed data will generate an interesting analysis. It was very pleasing that the deaf participants engaged readily with the activities and expressed their eagerness to be involved in future opportunities relating to peer-to-peer literacy”.

A Ghanaian participant explores different uses of literacy during the clock activity

A Ghanaian participant explores different uses of literacy during the clock activity

Similar activities were led by research assistant Noah Ahereza at the Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD), in a workshop attended by 20 participants from across the country including students, leaders of deaf organisations, professional teachers of the deaf, and sign language instructors working with the UNAD and Kyambogo University.

Mr Ahereza explained that the clock activity was followed by small group discussions, in which participants listed common scenarios where English is used, focussing on when, where and how they use it in their daily lives. They also covered the influence of Ugandan Sign Language on their English literacy.

Participants at the Ghana workshop engage in discussions about literacy

Participants at the Ghana workshop engage in discussions about literacy

He added: “Their discussions were insightful and highly relevant to the questions we are starting to investigate in this pilot project. Our emphasis is on the need for implementation of quality bilingual deaf education approaches where sign language and English literacy development among deaf students are both taken care of. The participants appreciated being involved in this endeavour, and some have started updating their Facebook pages, sharing their experiences from the group discussions”.

Professor Ulrike Zeshan, director of the project, emphasised the dedication of these two deaf research assistants. She said: “Noah and Marco have done excellent work in organising these workshops, and we look forward to the mid-term dissemination events due to be held in both countries in October. I really appreciate all deaf participants who have shared their views with our team, and would also like to thank Lancaster University Ghana and the Uganda National Association of the Deaf for facilitating these events”.

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