Literacies in Context: Engaging deaf primary school children in their learning and assessment

Manavalamamuni, Deepu, Choudhari, Jagdish, Gillen, Julia and Zeshan, Ulrike orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8438-3701 (2018) Literacies in Context: Engaging deaf primary school children in their learning and assessment. In: International Conference on Learning, 28-30 September 2019, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India.

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Early language deprivation of deaf children is a key disabling factor, and access to sign language in deaf education is mandated by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The research reported here involves 20 deaf children at a primary school in Odisha. The project supports early development of reading and writing skills, in a context with Indian Sign Language as first language (L1) and spoken/written languages as second languages (L2). The study follows a strength-based approach where the linguistic and cultural resources of Deaf Communities are valued, and deaf children’s real-life uses of languages and literacies [1] form the basis of learning, so that the children are led from what they know and are interested in, to higher levels of competence. We have created new methodologies of assessing deaf
children’s multilingual and multimodal skills with a series of activities adapted from the Languages Ladder [2].
These activities create bridges between sign language, fingerspelling (manual alphabet), and reading/writing, with visual prompts adapted to the local cultural context.
As group work based on the children’s real-life literacies continues, we regularly track progress using multilingual-multimodal portfolio entries [3]. The study shows how communicative isolation is eliminated, and educational engagement of deaf children can be significantly improved.

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