Gallaudet University, in conjunction with Kapi'olani Community College, and the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in conjunction with Universidade Federal do Ceará, are initiating a four-year consortium to enhance cooperative efforts in education in a new area for joint activities in fields related to signed languages and deaf communities, in order to strengthen and expand existing programs. The project will create diversified educational exchanges between students in the U.S. and Brazil in areas related to Deaf Education, Teaching in American Sign Language and Brazilian Sign Language, Deaf Studies, Translation and Interpretation, and Linguistics. Besides, it will enhance the mobility of students and faculty by linking these institutions via mutual recognition of credits and studies, as well as developing new courses and programs created in distance formats to be continued for future generations of students after the conclusion of the grant-supported project.
This project emphasizes the importance of preparing students for their exchange experience via language and cultural preparation to enhance student mobility, using faculty and student internships to offer American Sign Language (ASL) and Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS) courses where no written textbooks exist. After students are prepared at home in the signed language of the host country, via distance learning, they will study for one semester or a year in the host country as a part of their regular curricular program and will complement their degree in Deaf Education, Deaf Studies, Interpretation, or Linguistics in a timely fashion and with no extension for degree completion needed. The U.S.-Brazil ASL-LIBRAS consortium program aims to improve the quality of students in undergraduate and graduate education in both countries and to explore ways to prepare students for work through the:
Development of sustainable agreements on mutual recognition and portability of academic credits among GU, KCC and UFSC e UFC;
Development of sustainable, shared curricula among these four institutions;• Acquisition of the languages and exposure to the cultures of the deaf communities in the United States and Brazil, specifically ASL and LIBRAS;
Development of student internships or other work-related experiences in conjunction with professional associations and schools serving the deaf communities of each country; at the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf – RID and the Hawaiian School for the Deaf and Blind in the U.S., and the National Federation of Education and Integration of Deaf – FENEIS and the Federal Institute of Santa Catarina – IFSC in Brazil;
Development of sustained cooperation and exchange among academic personnel at U.S. and Brazilian institutions in a variety of areas, including shared online curricula and collaboration on an international website on Sign Linguistics.
In the U.S., exchange students from Brazil will have the opportunity to work with professional associations and schools for deaf children. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf – a national professional association for signed language interpreters in the U.S. located in Alexandria, VA – will be a non-academic partner that provides advice and expertise of a professional nature. They will also provide internships for the exchange students from Brazil, broadening their experience from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to incorporate a national perspective related to professional practice. The Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind will be an additional public agency available to advise and share expertise in the project. Brazilian exchange students will also have the opportunity for internships at this school for deaf children while studying at KCC in Honolulu, Hawaii. This will broaden the students' experience from the classroom exchange to professional practice in deaf education, as they participate and observe the cultural and linguistic experiences of deaf children being educated at a state residential school, which is a long standing tradition of the deaf community in the U.S. Similarly, FENEIS and IFSC in Brazil will work with exchange students from the U.S. This will provide American exchange students with the opportunity to observe and participate in the life and culture of the Brazilian deaf community at a national level, similarly broadening their exchange experience and providing them with professional experiences that will benefit their professional opportunities in the future.
The U.S.-Brazil ASL-LIBRAS consortium program proposed here focuses on professional fields that specifically relate to the deaf communities of each country: Deaf Studies, Translation and Interpretation, Linguistics, and Deaf education. In both the U.S. and Brazil, the study of deaf culture, interpretation, language structure and education are of major import to the education and lives of deaf citizens. The U.S. brings a strength regarding curriculum (for example, 20 years of interpreter education) and Brazil brings a strong distance education component, via the expertise of LANTEC – New Technology Laboratory at UFSC. This partnership will provide strengths that fill gaps on each side that would otherwise be unable to be filled without the consortium.
In the U.S. there is a dearth of signed language teachers while there is an upsurge in the offering of ASL for foreign language credits in higher education. Similarly, there is a demand for translators and interpreters working between English and ASL that exceeds the supply. It is requirement by the RID that professionals obtain a BA degree prior to sitting for the national certification exam starting in 2012, and yet insufficient higher education programs exist to meet this need. Collaboration with Brazil, where distance education programs in these high need areas can reach large numbers of students around the country, enhance the availability of our consortia to meet the growing need.
Significantly, with the advent of technology that supports video images, such as web-based cameras and computer-supported IP video communications, as well as video phone technology, deaf communities around the world are in a better position than ever before to communicate and collaborate cross-culturally and internationally. This consortium will foster cross-cultural experience of students and faculty in both countries. In this sense, we believe the online component of the project will increase international exchange even beyond the four-year period of the grant. By collaborating on the website on sign linguistics project, students from an international pool will be recruited to the fields of study, and will have access to the online courses developed as a result of the project.
The program will allow for students at all institutions to learn a foreign signed language and to spend a semester abroad studying with and learning about another country's deaf community. Students pursing a degree in Deaf Studies, Translation and Interpretation, Linguistics, and/or Deaf Education will have the opportunity to experience this exchange without adding time to the completion of their degree. Although the deaf community provides a smaller sub-group of students from which to exchange, these four institutions have programs from which 12 students will be selected each year of years 2, 3, and 4 to travel and study abroad. Thus, 18 students will travel from Brazil to the US and 18 will travel from the U.S. to Brazil. We anticipate a total of 36 students having the opportunity for an exchange experience in the US-Brazil consortium. Each institution will recruit from their student body deaf and hearing students who qualify for the program, will offer courses in the signed language of the host country, and will provide pre-departure orientation and preparation in support of the international travel experiences.
In addition to these exchanges, the institutions will collaborate on the development of distance courses focusing on International Sign Language, during the first year of the program. International sign is a signed system for communication that has been in use for over 20 years to link deaf communities worldwide. It is a necessary and effective for communication at international conferences attended by members of the deaf community and will serve all consortium students well as enhancing their learning and marketability, post-graduation. Once the online courses teaching international sign are offered, in the second, third and fourth years, core courses related to the specific fields of study will be developed, to be offered in international sign, also to be offered at a distance via the online format and accepted for credit at all consortium institutions. These online courses will then be established, maintained, and shared by the consortium institutions, and are planned to be offered even after the four-year funding is completed.
FIPSE-CAPES: Students Exchange
This consortium represents a four-year project to enhance and expand cooperative efforts in education in a new area for joint activities in fields related to signed languages and deaf communities, in order to strengthen and expand existing programs. The project creates diversified educational exchanges between students in the U.S. and Brazil, with student exchanges in areas related to Deaf Education, sign language teaching in American Sign Language and Brazilian Sign Language, Deaf Studies, translation and interpretation, and linguistics. The consortium enhances the mobility of students and faculty by linking the consortium institutions via mutual recognition of credits and studies, as well as developing new courses and programs created in distance formats for the consortium project which will be continued for future generations of students after the conclusion of the grant-supported project.