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September 4, 2009

IGNOU to introduce BA in Sign Language

IGNOU inducts 35 speech-impaired in Sign Language Prog

Ignou to introduce BA in Sign Language

New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has inducted 35 speech-impaired students to its B.A. in Sign Language Programme. Five of these students are foreign students coming from China, Nepal and three African countries - Kenya, Uganda and Brundi.

The induction was for the foundation course of the programme, which culminates in the 4-year Degree programme in Sign Language. The induction was inauguration by Vice Chancellor Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai at the IGNOU campus.

The course has been incepted and launched by IGNOU's Staff Training and Research Institute of Distance Education (STRIDE). It has been developed in collaboration with the International Centre for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies (iSLanDS) at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the UK.

"Thirty five speech-impaired expressed, spontaneously with powerful imagination and verve, their willingness to learn the art and get a world-class degree. The degree will fetch them social status, career and dignity as humans. It is a dream come true for the speech-impaired community at large which never believed before that there could be anything more than just expressing in their sign language and spend life as an also-living entity of the society", said an official from IGNOU.

The modules of the programme have been developed by the iSLanDS Centre for teaching in India, beginning 2009. Teaching these courses will be jointly by UCLan and IGNOU teachers.

Launching this first-ever organised attempt to educate thousands of speech and hearing impaired students in the country, Prof Pillai said, "IGNOU is aiming to create through the programme sign language teachers and professionals to support the deaf. Teaching assistants in deaf education and interpreter trainers are much in short supply in India. According to an estimate, only 5% of the deaf children attend schools in India. Even where special schools for the deaf exist, they have inadequate technical and teaching staff. It is crucial to create qualified deaf professionals in this field."

The move was further explained by Prof P.R. Ramanujam, Director of STRIDE, who said, "Applied Sign Language Studies, or ASLS, is a relatively new area of study at Higher Education level. The field is in the crossroads of applied linguistics, sign languages and deaf communities. Sign languages are full-fledged natural human languages on a par with spoken languages at all levels of linguistic organisation. They are used as first or preferred languages by the communities of deaf people around the world, each country or region having its own sign language. When the study of sign language and deaf communities is brought to bear on the traditional areas of study in applied linguistics, such as first and second language acquisition, bilingualism, language pedagogy and the like, this results in a new subject area that can be called Applied Sign Language Studies."

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