NTID named finalist for global literacy competition

Goal is increased access to local sign languages, improvements in literacy for deaf children in developing countries
Man signs the word "sea" in sign langage while standing in front of presentation

Mark Benjamin

Christopher Kurz, an instructional/support faculty member at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, is working with a team to provide access to literacy for deaf children in their own sign languages in the Philippines. The team is one of three finalists in a global literacy competition.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is one of three finalists in a global competition to source technology solutions that increase access to local sign languages and advance language and literacy outcomes for deaf children in developing countries.

The “Sign On For Literacy” global competition announced that RIT/NTID will receive $150,000 (in addition to the $25,000 in seed funding they were awarded as semifinalists in 2018) to pilot their World Around You platform in the Philippines. Collaborating with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, World Around You documents, collects and shares local sign and written languages through an open-content digital library of folktales offered in an interactive bilingual format.

“Sign On For Literacy” is a program of All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development—a partnership of USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government, and will enable RIT/NTID to work with Second Avenue Learning, a local company in Rochester, N.Y., to develop technology that enables the creation and implementation of stories and language games. RIT/NTID will continue working with the deaf community and partners in the Philippines on story creation, demonstration and testing.

“We are looking forward to working with different communities—Filipino deaf, deaf students, teachers of the deaf, parents of deaf children, and technical experts—while we develop and field test World Around You,” said Christopher Kurz, an instructional/support faculty member in RIT/NTID’s Master of Science program in secondary education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. “The goal of our project is to provide access to literacy for deaf children in their own sign languages in the Philippines, and eventually all around the world.”

The other finalists include Manos Unidas, working with students in Nicaragua, and eKitabu’s Studio, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Topics
access technology
deaf community
global engagement
partnerships

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