The impact of digital educational materials in sign language to the acceptance and recognition of sign languages as official languages
March 22, 2024
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Deaf people around the globe have faced and continue to face discrimination in the use of sign language. They need equal and real-time access to information and communication daily. This is particularly acute in educational settings for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners. The lack of meaningful official sign language recognition legislation or similar policies at the national or state level violates the fundamental rights of the Deaf. It prevents deaf learners from learning in a language that is most accessible to them, preventing them from achieving learning outcomes at the same rate as their hearing peers.

Our colleague Anna Martin, Inclusive Education Specialist, eKitabu chaired a panel session on March 11th focusing on the impact of digital educational materials in sign language on the acceptance and recognition of sign languages as official languages at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) 2024 with panelist: Georgine Auma, Director Studio KSL, eKitabu, Christopher Kurz and Patrick Graham, Rochester Institute of Technology and Sekerani Kufakwina, Malawi National Association of the Deaf.

“eKitabu has participated in several presentations over the years, but this one was exceptional. The audience was highly engaged and had many questions for our panelists. The conversation that started in our session sparked ongoing engagement throughout the week, and we hope that it will continue through meaningful collaboration.” Noted Anna Martin.

All countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) must promote the meaningful recognition of sign languages. It is critical for resources, including materials and language documents, to be made available and accessible in sign language to show policymakers and other stakeholders that local sign languages are actual languages. They are critical to the personal, educational, and community success of deaf and hard-of-hearing members of society.

“It is always important for everyone to have access to information- because knowledge increases collaboration. And, while recognition of national sign languages is vital to the realization of human rights for the Deaf, including access to quality education, recognition without implementation, will remain on paper.” Noted Patrick Graham, RIT.

CIES is the largest and oldest of 47 Comparative and International Education Societies around the world. It has over 4,000 individual members — researchers, analysts, practitioners, and students — who represent over 1,000 universities, research institutes, government departments, non-governmental organizations, and multilateral agencies across the globe. Established as an academic association in 1956, CIES has attracted a diverse audience in working towards its mission to foster cross-cultural understanding and scholarship. Read more

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