Comenius Transfer-Expert on SignLanguage@School

European Commission, Lifelong Learning Programme 

Lead Partner: equalizent training and consultation Ltd

Other Partners: queraum. cultural- & social research (AT); University College of Teacher Education Baden (AT), Centre for visually impaired pupils (AT), University of Cologne (DE), Johann-Joseph-Gronewald School (DE), Gebärdenfabrik (DE), Assist Net (BG), Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski (BG), Secondary Special School with kindergarten for hearing impaired children “Prof. D. Denev” (BG)

Research Consultant: Ruth Swanwick, University of Leeds

Aim and Scope of the Project

In 1988 the EU approved a resolution about Sign Languages (SL) and asked all member countries for recognition of their national SL. Although the recognition of SL is meanwhile a standard in the most of the EU member countries, there do exist various barriers in the field of equality of education.

The SignLanguage@School project aims at developing & testing SL-Books and corresponding bilingual teaching concepts & material (SignLanguage@SchoolKits) for the use in bilingual elementary schools for deaf and hard of hearing children, thus offering a helpful collection of advice for realizing bilingual teaching sessions.

In AT, BG and DE the structure of the SignLanguage@School project is to elaborate products within a joint team. It consists of training institutions for the deaf and hard of hearing, Universities for Eduction and selected partner-schools that take the joint responsibility for elaborating the key products.

The project aims at reaching the following target groups:

  • teachers in primary schools for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • deaf and hard of hearing pupils
  • policy makers (e.g. departments for education and culture, local  authorities)

Operational partners (AT, BG, DE) have already built up cooperation with the partner primary-schools interested in participating in the project. Some of the partners have already been involved in the previous EU-project SignLibrary.

The goal of exploitation-activities is to

  • transfer the key results of the project (SignLanguage@SchoolKits) into further education programs of teachers and into
  • education curriculum development concerning the curriculum for teachers as well as for deaf pupils.

To prove that “facilitating the access of all to education systems” do not remain a buzzword, the target group (children & teachers) will be actively involved in the entire project (e.g. producing SL-Books, regional transfer platforms, project meetings).

Ruth Swanwick is the research consultant for this project. This role entails advising on:

  • the current research in the field of bilingual education as  research context for the Comenius work
  • current international practices in deaf education re. bilingual literacy development and relevance for the Comenius project work
  • development of learning concept and the teaching materials  for the  Sign Language Books
  • the  testing and  evaluation of the concept   and the  teaching materials in bilingual classes
  • identification of strengths/weaknesses of the project work and areas for development
  • identification of  the key issues for transfer between countries