Start date: Jun 1, 2015,
End date: May 31, 2016
At Hetland videregående skole we are aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities. Article 24 states the right to education and highlights the States responsibility to facilitate the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community. Nowadays most deaf students in Norway attend mainstream schools and deaf students loose the opportunity to socialize in a sign language environment. That is the case at our school at Hetland high school in Stavanger. It is important for us as to be prospective and prepare our school for the future by establishing contact with European organization and schools for future cooperation.
The Norwegian national subject curriculum for the deaf and severely hard of hearing emphasize the importance of enhancing students international knowledge. This Erasmus + project will be a good resource for teachers to improve our knowledge about sign language and deaf culture in other countries, and in this way get better skills to teach our students.
This project will enhance our competence at the Department for Deaf and hard of hearing at Hetland videregående skole, enhance the cooperation in our team and prepare us for a better service for both our students and teacher here at Hetland, and furthermore for the students and teachers who attend our nearby mainstream schools.
In our original Erasmus+ application the intention was to join courses facilitated for teachers and staff who worked with deaf and hard of hearing students. In Dialogue was supposed to set up some courses focusing on cooperation, dialogue and couching regarding the work with deaf and hard of hearing students. These courses were canceled because our partner schools withdrew their applications. SIU gave us the opportunity to redefine our project and focus on job-shadowing in organizations that are working with deaf and hard of hearing persons. We choosed organizations in Sweden and Finland,which we thought could give us new inspiration in our daily work. Sweden and Finland are both countries that have accepted sign language as a natural and official language in the school system.
Three sign language interpreters from Hetland videregående school went to Helsinki in Finland, they visited the interpreter organization Viparo, which consist of a group of deaf and hearing sign language interpreters. A deaf sign language interpreter is the Managing Director of Viparo. This was a new and exciting experience for our sign language interpreters. Norway has not got any deaf sign language interpreters. Job-shadowing at Viparo gave us an enhanced understanding of how deaf people may have an important role in an interpreting process.
Those who visited Helsinki also went to Finish High School and Teatteri Totti. Both of these places gave opportunity to watch Finish Sign Language, and practice a little international sign language. Job-shadowing at these places initiated reflection regarding the importance of organizations and institutions that focus on sign language and deaf culture. Deaf people have some common interests and ways of living across the national borders which establish the deaf culture. We have become even more aware of the importance of preserving this culture. This is equivalent to the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities Article 24.
When we visited Tulläng gymnasiet i Örebro we became even more aware of how deaf students get a positive socialization by joining a big group of other deaf and hard of hearing students. All deaf and hard of hearing students in Sweden who want an education provided in sign language, have to go to Örebro. We saw by our own eyes how twelve deaf and hard of hearing students had an engaging discussion in their philosophy lesson. They were able to discuss freely together and use their high degree of reflection. We started reflecting how we can facilitate for deaf students, who use sign language interpreters,to get a more active position in main-stream schools.
Tulläng gymnasiet gave us examples of how students who are language impaired receive an opportunity to come together with peers who are in the same situation as themselves. A lot of these language impaired students enhanced their self-esteem when they learned to know that they were not the only one in the world with language difficulties. Teaching like this was a new experience for us and we got even more aware of the importance of focusing on self-esteem and personal identity. Tullänggymnasiet showed us how they used the Swedish curriculum for deaf and hard-of hearing students. We attended a class where the students were occupied working with Swedish Sign Language. This was really useful, and we got some new ideas of how to work with the Norwegian´s curriculum. We got a link to a site which will be useful in the future.
Even though we did not manage to get as many contacts as our original application suggested, we have established important contacts.
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