1.1 The SignTeach Online Project
Summary of 1.1
The SignTeach Online project aimed to help sign language teachers who had to switch to teaching online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was funded under the Erasmus+ programme's special call for COVID-related projects. During the pandemic, countries went into lockdown. Sign Language teachers had to learn and adjust to teaching sign language online, from one day to the next.
The project brought together a consortium of sign language teachers from different backgrounds, such as universities, deaf organizations, and independent teachers, to develop resources for sign language teachers across Europe.
1.1 The SignTeach Online Project
This report is one of the outputs of the transnational project SignTeach Online. The project was partially funded under the Erasmus+ programme after a special call for Covid related projects ( Strategic Partnerships in Response of the COVID-19 Situation, 2020).
During the Covid pandemic (January 2020 - May 2021), whole countries went into lockdown for periods of time: people were not allowed to travel or meet. Schools, universities and informal classes had to switch to online teaching from one day to the next. Teachers had very little or no time to prepare for the switch from offline to online teaching. Most had to learn along the way, by trial and error.
From September 2014 to September 2017, 11 organisations from 8 countries had worked together in the SignTeach project, also funded under the Erasmus+ project (see the project’s website for the partners in the SignTeach project). Together, sign language teachers had developed training materials and educational resources for sign language teachers across the EU, and world wide. You can find the results on the project’s website: www.signteach.eu.
Surveys and interviews done for the SignTeach project had shown that in most EU countries, teachers are Deaf native signers. Most are self-taught, many work independently. Most produce their own curricula, teaching methods and teaching materials. Only a few countries have formal teacher training programmes for sign language teachers.
Several partners from the original SignTeach project decided to apply for funding for a ‘rapid response team’ to respond to the new challenges that sign language teachers had to deal with as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions: switching from offline teaching to online teaching. A small consortium applied for funding under the special Covid Erasmus+ call and was successful. The consortium consisted of sign language teachers working at universities, at deaf organisations, sign language centres and/or independently. In the table below, you can find their names.
The project, SignTeach Online, started June 2021 and had a duration of 24 months. Because of the Covid restrictions, the first consortium meetings were online. Our first offline physical meeting was not until March 2022. By that time, most lock-down restrictions had been lifted, sign language teachers were again teaching offline or using a combination of offline and online teaching (hybrid teaching).
Zoom meeting SignTeach Online Consortium, October 2021
The first physical transnational meeting in Siena, March 2022