Zero Project 2018/19
Bilingual Classes Supporting Families to Learn Sign Language Together.
kinderhände teaches Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS) to hearing families of children who are deaf, children with deaf parents, and children with hearing impairments. This is done by offering bilingual playgroups and learning materials, and by promoting the use of ÖGS so that families can develop a common language
In Austria, as in most countries, over 90 per cent of children who are deaf are born into hearing families, which can mean that a common family language is missing.
kinderhände is a NGO based in Vienna that teaches Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS) to hearing families of children who are deaf, children with deaf parents, and children with hearing impairments. This is done by offering bilingual playgroups and learning materials, and by promoting the use of ÖGS so that families can develop a common language.
It also has an online platform for families to use at home, and has developed teacher-training modules to support ÖGS use in schools. kinderhände has its own publishing facility to produce bilingual learning materials such as song books and card games.
Although the primary aim of kinderhände is to support communication in families where a child is deaf, there are other benefits as well. Sign language supports language development in children with cochlear implants, children from migrant backgrounds, and children whose parents are deaf. For the past three years, kinderhände has also offered courses to teachers and other staff to promote ÖGS in schools.
• Every semester kinderhände offers around 15 courses, with a maximum of eight children per course.
• In 2017, kinderhände supported 165 children over two semesters in their playgroups, and supported more families through other offers, such as their parent-child café and learning materials.
kinderhände’s services have extended from offering bilingual classes to being a centre for counselling, training, and information about ÖGS for families and schools; and consequently the demand for the organization to open branches in other parts of Austria is growing. The organizational structure, teaching curriculum, and clear philosophy are all ready to be replicated; and as a publisher, kinderhände is able to produce and adapt materials according to demand. When funding is available, the programme could also be implemented in other countries with other sign languages.