What is nonformal education? Forms of learning with a definite purpose outside the school system. We learn through positive experiences of success. It makes you more open, creative and educated, unnoticed.
The Sign Language Playground project a is Strategic Partnership and Exchange of Good Practices in Nonformal Education for the Deaf.
Nonformal methods on the field of Deaf education
Having observed different training courses as well as youth exchanges it was clear that Nonformal Education is widely spread amongst those, who were involved in the above. There is a wide range of resources and materials on the Internet written in English and other languages, none of which was available in Sign Language. Moreover, Deaf people have to face communication problems and misconceptions in their everyday life and the educational system for the deaf is deficient. Deaf people find it extremely difficult to follow a specific academic or career path. They are discriminated due to the lack of information.
This led us to the conclusion that Deaf society has a limited access to Nonformal Education. So we started planning NFE activities in a way that hearing-mpaired people could participate without feeling excluded.
It is evident that significant improvement and changes are needed in the formal education of Deaf children across Europe. Our aim was is to provide support in this change , and, by introducing innovative methods, to enable the Deaf to access languages and exercise other human rights.
As a consequence of the above, it is the first step to build a platform. All the NFE activities are available for the Deaf free of charge. With the creation of this platform several needs of the Deaf will be met since teachers, trainers and any profession which deals with deafness can have access to this source of information. We also addressed the need of communication between Deaf and hearing.
The main purpose of the project was to develop a methodology which combines the nonformal educational techniques applied and tested by the partner organisations in the field of the education of young Deaf persons and those with other disabilities. By exchanging and combining these best practices with the international partners experienced in the various forms of nonformal education, sharing knowledge at an international level, and by including the young participants through the Mobility Program, as well as their active contribution, we have developed a methodology and practical tool that can be used and adapted free. The goals of the activity collection is not only to boost the participants’ confidence and self-esteem but to promote the cooperation between Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people. Inclusion, equality, respect and mutual understanding were are goals and they were all achieved in our project.
We created a nonformal activity collection of 23 exercises, which includes 20 short-format and 3 long-format exercises. They are based on applied improvisation, experiential pedagogy and drama pedagogy. They can be used in an integrated place, Deaf and hearing, i.e. the hearing condition has no significance. The exercises were specifically developed by visually replacing the auditory components and testing that they actually work for these hearing impaired people during preparatory meetings with Deaf professionals. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first nonformal activity collection in the world specifically for the Deaf. In addition, it is unique that long-term practices have been designed specifically to develop individual and group attitudes and shared thinking about disability.
Another special feature of the activities is that they are also accessible. They can be achieved in several ways: in addition to the descriptions of the competencies, skills to be developed, textual descriptions containing a number of other components are also available on the website in English, Hungarian, Greek and Polish. They can also be found in the form of International Sign Language videos, which is a real innovation in this area.