IGNOU hosts conference on sign language

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The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) hosted a two day national conference on “Innovation in Educational Approaches to Indian Sign Language”. The conference builds on the success of a project conducted jointly by IGNOU and the University of Lancanshire (UK) with support from Ishara Foundation (a deaf literacy NGO based in Mumbai).

“At IGNOU, it is innovation in every sense. We had the first ever four year degree programme with residential facilities for students. The Ministry of Social and Justice Empowerment, considering the innovations of IGNOU in this field approached us to congratulate our efforts,” said Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillia, VC, IGNOU. He further announced university’s plans to build an ‘Indian Sign Language Institute’ in the campus soon.

The project has been one of the highlighted success stories under the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), which was agreed by the Prime Ministers of the UK and India.

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Day one started with two sessions highlighting the distance learning aspect in Indian Sign Language (ISL) and deaf education in the first and new ways and directions in ISL studies as the second with Dr. Ulrike Zeshan, Director, UCLan, UK initiating the aspects from research to implementation in ISL studies..

Day two, with three sessions, aims to throw some light on the peer tutoring in deaf teaching and learning, technologies for ISL and deaf education and concludes with experiences with educational innovation through ISL.

Delegates from India as well as international participants discussed the use of Indian Sign Language in educational programmes for deaf people in India. The status of sign language in deaf education has been a major new development in India over recent years.

The national conference aims at disseminating the results of the project and discussing future avenues for further research, development and implementation. Prominent speakers include representatives from the British Council, the Rehabilitation Council of India, the Ishara Foundation, the National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, as well as deaf students at IGNOU and deaf NGO representatives.

“IGNOU plans to create sign language teachers and professionals to support the hearing-impaired community,” said Prof. P.R. Ramanujam, Pro VC also the project coordinator for ISL.

Prof. Ulrike Zeshan from UCLan expressed her delight about hosting this important national conference, “which showcases the skills and aspirations of deaf sign language users in India”.

IGNOU has established India’s first BA program in Applied Sign Language Studies as well as a Bachelor Preparation Program for Deaf Students, and plans for an Indian Institute of Sign Language Studies are under way at IGNOU with the support of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

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