10 year anniversary celebration for Preston’s International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies

Posted on February 13, 2017

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is celebrating ten years of working with disadvantaged deaf communities in the Global South to improve their access to communication, education, research, and employment.

UCLan’s International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies (iSLanDS) has continuously expanded its range of activities in countries such as India, Indonesia, Turkey, and Uganda.

Through these partnerships academics from iSLanDS are able to work closely with local communities to research and document their sign languages, including endangered sign languages in rural communities with hereditary deafness.

Speaking at a 10th anniversary event for the Institute, iSLanDS Director Professor Ulrike Zeshan OBE said: “Over the past ten years, we have consolidated our identity and work portfolio as a deaf-centric international institute with a unique network of partners, associates, and deaf-led research hubs in the Global South.

“We are very proud of the many successes, milestones and impacts that iSLanDS staff, students, and partners have achieved, and we deeply appreciate everyone who has worked with us over the years.”

Ambrose Murangira, Executive Director of the Uganda National Association of the Deaf, commented on the impact of a joint project with iSLanDS on deaf literacy: “Almost all deaf persons in Uganda join school without a language (either signed or written) so they directly start learning English since it is the national language. Unfortunately, they are not trained properly as they are not provided with the needed assistance. The outcome is what they themselves call ‘broken English’. As a result, they are not comfortable using it when communicating with hearing friends.

“The iSLanDS project has given many of them hope, a hope that they can write good English. This has not only motivated those who had trouble with English but also those who can write good English, as they will be the one to teach the former.”

Keiko Sagara, a UCLan deaf research degree graduate who worked and studied at iSLanDS for four years before returning to her home country of Japan, said: “I now work in Osaka, Japan, at the National Museum of Ethnology (MINPAKU). Last year, we set up the Sign Language Linguistics Research Section where I now do research on historical sign linguistics with my own project on sign language varieties in Japan and Taiwan.

“Modelled on the postgraduate study group that I experienced at iSLanDS, I have also initiated a monthly research group hosted at Kuwansei Gakuin University, where deaf and hearing people from several universities can come together and talk about sign language research.”

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Institute, the iSLanDS team is also compiling a “video stories” project throughout 2017, featuring success stories of its members from around the world. 

This will be available on the iSLanDS blog – http://islandscentre.wordpress.com/ 

For more information about the Institute visit –http://www.uclan.ac.uk/islands

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