Why is it necessary to create educational resources for Deaf children, families, and schools with the constant involvement of the local Deaf community?
The aim of this presentation is to discuss theoretical and methodological considerations in the design of a group of bilingual educational resources (Argentine Sign Language -LSA- and Spanish) for Deaf children called Señario. Señario is part of our ethnographic work with the Argentine Deaf community and responds to the anthropology-by-demand model (Segato, 2018). The Deaf community specifically demands resources designed for the sociolinguistic situation of most Deaf children around the globe: they are born to hearing families that are unaware of the benefits of early exposure to sign language and multilingualism, and they go to schools that not always respect their linguistic rights (World Federation of the Deaf, 2016).
Thus, the first educational resource that is currently being designed within the Señario project is a basic bilingual LSA/Spanish dictionary with cultural notes, oriented to Deaf children and also to their families and schools. Thanks to our ethnographic work, we were able to organize several meetings with representatives of 15 associations of the deaf to document basic LSA signs and cultural information on the Deaf community. Following the design research approach (Collins, Joseph, & Bielaczyc, 2004), we have built knowledge with the Deaf community that has allowed us to continuously refine the design of the first resource.
The theory built on this experience leads us to think that there are three main reasons why it is necessary to design educational resources with the constant participation of the local Deaf community. Firstly, there are linguistic reasons. Since we consider languages as processes that emerge from discourse (Hopper, 1988), it is of vital importance to have data consisting of people who belong to the Deaf community. Secondly, there are sociocultural reasons. There are still many wrong popular assumptions surrounding the language and culture of Deaf people in Argentina that prevent Deaf children from having early exposure to sign language and multilingualism. Deaf people have first-hand experience of the problems caused by these popular assumptions, and they can provide insightful ways for overcoming them. Lastly, there are ethic/political reasons. To support the agency of the Deaf people in all the subjects that concern them is beneficial to the process of social inclusion from the bottom-up (Musgrave & Bradshaw, 2014).
Keywords: educational resources, Deaf community, sign language, design research, anthropology-by-demand
Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 15–42.
Hopper, P. (1988). Emergent Grammar and the A priori Grammar Postulate. In D. Tannen (Ed.), Linguistics in Context: Connecting Observation and Understanding. Norwood, New Yersey: Ablex.
Musgrave, S., & Bradshaw, J. (2014). Language and social inclusion: Unexplored aspects of intercultural communication. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 37(3), 198–212. https://doi.org/10.1075/aral.37.3.01mus
Segato, R. (2018). La crítica de la colonialidad en ocho ensayos. Y una antropología por demanda (2nd ed.). Buenos Aires: Prometeo.
World Federation of the Deaf. (2016). WFD position paper on the language rights of deaf children. Retrieved from https://wfdeaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/WFD-Position-Paper-on-Language-Rights-of-Deaf-Children-7-Sept-2016.pdf