Teaching sign language to everyone in an entertaining way
- Access Israel
- Country of Implementation
- Asia & Pacific
“Experience sign language as a language in itself, with its own cultural and communal meanings!” Mr. Sar-el Oren Ohana, Access Israel
Since only a relative few people know how to communicate in sign language, persons who are deaf or hard of hearing struggle with isolation and stereotypes, which further hinders their inclusion in society and in the work force. In addition, schools in Israel do not provide the means to increase awareness of the needs of people who are deaf.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Learning sign language, forming relationships, and becoming familiar with deaf culture in an affirmative, enjoyable, and fascinating way is at the heart of the project’s approach. The project provides basic courses in Israeli sign language taught by deaf instructors, thus opening channels of communication between hearing and deaf people and enabling the hearing to familiarize themselves with deaf culture. The success of the programme led to the expansion of the project, and to offering additional basic and advanced courses. From the beginning, the course was handled by volunteers and was offered free of charge. In 2015, however, Access Israel began charging a nominal fee to pay the instructors’ wages and to cover the costs of the expanding project. Consequently, the project now offers both rewarding employment and a decent income for deaf people. Access Israel also developed a complementary free cellular app that offers extra practice and vocabulary. As part of the learning experience, participants produce short videos with multiple participants to convey the meaning of a song in sign language.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The model is based on a convenient, clear, and easy-to-learn course that can be readily adopted and implemented at minimal cost in other countries and by organizations that aim to open communication channels between people with disabilities and able-bodied people. Due to increasing demand for advanced courses, Access Israel is in the process of expanding the project by providing nationwide courses in various levels, and by creating additional employment opportunities for the deaf. Access Israel and this popular project also fights stereotypes and helps to overcome the shared difficulties of people with various disabilities.