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SIGN8 on 9-12 Oct in Brazil – Call for Papers

16 March, 2017



The SIGN8 conference will take place on 9-12 October 2017 in Florianopolis, Brazil.

You can find the Call for Papers and all other information on this website:




Indonesian signers build collaboration and capacity at sign language research workshop

1 March, 2017

Aspiring deaf researchers from five Indonesian islands are raising the sign language research capacity of Indonesia’s deaf and academic communities at a workshop coordinated by PUPET. Hosted by our Jakarta partner Atma Jaya University and funded by the British Council Indonesia, this workshop includes 12 participants from Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Bali and Sulawesi, led by PUPET hub coordinator Muhammad Isnaini and our research fellow Nick Palfreyman, whose Leverhulme project represents the same five islands.


All last week, the 12 participants engaged in discussions and activities on sign language linguistics, ethical research, language variation, and the history of the Indonesian sign community, using a range of interactive materials and a peer education philosophy. They were especially inspired by the insights of a bilingual participant who uses both Indonesian Sign Language and Kata Kolok, a rural sign language in Bali. For many participants, Ni Made Dadi Astini was the first Kata Kolok signer they had met, and they were fascinated to learn about her Balinese village.


One activity explored the links between deaf communities in different Indonesian cities

This week, for the final two days of the workshop, the participants are joined by eight experienced academics from Atma Jaya, the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, UNAND in Padang, and UNS Solo, to explore the potential for effective sign language research collaboration with deaf community members. Nick commented: ‘The first week of our workshop was a great success, with participants quick to establish strong friendships and keen to share their experiences with each other. We are now eager to share our knowledge and enthusiasm with the hearing academics.’


Participants visited Atma Jaya University library to increase their understanding of research


They used statues to reflect on linguistic rights for deaf people


Learning by doing: Participants used ELAN to explore sign language phonology


Sign languages in the World Atlas: Our scholars meet linguists and deaf leaders at UNESCO

27 February, 2017

Our scholars met last week in Paris with deaf community leaders, linguists, and members of the UNESCO Secretariat to discuss the forthcoming debut of sign languages in the World Atlas of Languages.


Kang-Suk Byun, Hasan Dikyuva, Ulrike Zeshan and Florjan Rojba at UNESCO last week


Our director, Prof Ulrike Zeshan, and our associates Kang-Suk Byun from South Korea and Hasan Dikyuva from Turkey, advised the attendees about work at iSLanDS so far on researching and cataloguing endangered sign languages. They advised attendees about differences in the threats to rural and urban sign languages, pressure on minority sign languages from dominant or foreign sign languages, and the issue of policies promoting sign language standardisation. The scoring system for assessing the degree of endangerment for sign languages, previously developed at iSLanDS, was also explained.

World Federation of the Deaf board member Florjan Rojba from Albania situated the planned work in the context of the UNCRPD and the WFD strategic priorities in his presentation.

Alongside linguists from the Foundation for Endangered Languages, who also attended the meeting, UNESCO has been extending its Atlas, and the latest development will include sign languages for the first time, both those that are endangered and those that are still relatively safe.

At the meeting, the 12 participants shared ideas on the design of the new interactive online platform of the Atlas, and how to make it fully accessible to deaf communities. The inclusion of sign languages in a new UNESCO questionnaire that seeks information on languages from national governments was also discussed.

We are thrilled that the next Atlas will put sign languages “on the map” alongside spoken languages, and we are grateful to everyone who has contributed to this exciting and impactful work. 

SIGNSPACE project launch: An online portal for multilingual signers

27 February, 2017

We are excited to announce the launch of our new project, entitled ‘Multilingual work spaces for sign language users: An online portal driving social innovation’ (SIGNSPACE), funded by the European Research Council (ERC) as a follow-up to ‘Multilingual behaviour in sign language users’ (MULTISIGN). Our MULTISIGN team found that signers have impressive abilities to communicate across language boundaries. As a ‘Proof of Concept’ project, SIGNSPACE gives signers the chance to exploit and increase this ability by translating MULTISIGN findings into an innovative and practical online portal for transnational signed communication.


Some of our MULTISIGN project team members


The portal will feature activities to help signers build meta-linguistic awareness, use sign languages bilingually and multilingually, and interact remotely with people who use different sign languages, with an integrated tool for sign-to-sign-translation. The idea for the portal was developed based on the views of 63 deaf people, from 25 different countries, in their responses to our online survey presented in International Sign.

Prof Ulrike Zeshan, principal investigator for SIGNSPACE, commented: “Our portal will especially benefit deaf communities who have had few opportunities for international contact in the past. They’ll be able to converse with experienced international deaf colleagues, draw from their knowledge, share resources and strengthen their capacity for activism, for example to lobby their local government bodies for access to education and sign language recognition”.

SIGNSPACE is an 18-month collaboration between UCLan’s iSLanDS and an award-winning Hungarian company, Dolphio Technologies. Together, we will create the portal; hold demonstration and training workshops in India, Indonesia, Jordan, Hungary and the UK. We are grateful to all of our MULTISIGN participants and research team, survey respondents, academic and business partners, the ERC, and everyone else who has contributed to the formation and launch of this innovative project.


Our 10-year anniversary: Thank you

6 February, 2017

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 10-year anniversary event last week at UCLan, celebrating a decade of working with disadvantaged deaf communities in the Global South to improve their access to communication, education, research, and employment.


We are grateful to our many presenters and participants for making this event so inspiring and memorable.


Dr Jun Hui Yang presents at our 10-year anniversary event on 1st February 2017

Our research fellow Dr Nick Palfreyman presented on the work of our research hubs in Indonesia and India, and conveyed our plans for launching new international hubs in the near future. He said: “It is a great privilege to be part of iSLanDS for many reasons, including its commitment to applying sign language research creatively, making a positive difference to the lives of deaf people around the world. We’d like to thank everyone who has contributed our work over the past 10 years, and we look forward to the next decade of our journey as a pioneering research institute”.


Sibaji Panda talks about the iSLanDS Institute’s work in India

Keiko Sagara talked about her work and studies here at iSLanDS, and about her current project at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Osaka, Japan, which established a Sign Language Linguistics Research Section last year. She added: “I now do research on historical sign linguistics at Minpaku with my own project on sign language varieties in Japan and Taiwan. I also initiated a monthly research group hosted at Kwansei Gakuin University, modelled on the postgraduate study group at iSLanDS, where deaf and hearing people from several universities can come together and discuss sign language research”.


Keiko Sagara gives a video presentation from Japan

Our director, Prof Ulrike Zeshan OBE, commented that the past 10 years have allowed iSLanDS to consolidate its identity and work portfolio as a deaf-centric international institute with a unique network of partners, associates, and deaf-led research hubs. She said: “We’re very proud of the many successes and impacts that our staff, students, and partners have achieved, and we deeply appreciate everyone who has worked with us over the years”.

To mark our anniversary, we are compiling a “video stories” project throughout 2017, featuring the success stories of our members around the world. We will post more details about this project here soon.


Prof Zeshan launches our 10-year anniversary “video stories” project


iSLanDS Seminar Series 2017

30 January, 2017

We are delighted to announce the sessions for our 2017 iSLanDS Seminar Series at UCLan and invite you to join us for a range of fascinating talks on the most recent research in relation to sign languages and deaf communities. Please see our announcement here and contact if you would like further details. We look forward to welcoming you to our discussions on the latest findings and innovations in these exciting areas of study.


SIGN8 conference in Brazil in October 2017

29 January, 2017

We are very pleased to announce that the SIGN8 conference will take place in Brazil at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) on 25-27 October 2017.

UFSC is located in Florianopolis and is home to a well-known sign language programme. We are delighted that we can bring the SIGN conference to South America for the first time, and are grateful to the Brazilian team for their bid to host SIGN8.

This is an advance announcement, and a Call for Papers with further details will be issued asap.