All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development Unveils New Competition to Ensure All Deaf Children Achieve Literacy

Sign On For Literacy Prize Seeks to Identify and Support Technology-Based Solutions to Improve Literacy and Learning Outcomes for Deaf Children


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WASHINGTON and BUDAPEST, November 8, 2017 – All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) today announced the launch of Sign On For Literacy, a new global competition to invest in innovations that increase access to local sign languages and advance languageSign On For Literacy logo and literacy outcomes for deaf children. The competition was announced at the third International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf during a session streamed live on Facebook.  

“The civil rights struggle of our time is delivering an education to all – and not just some – children,” said Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. “By spurring innovation that provides children who are deaf access to sign language and literacy, Sign On For Literacy is helping us move closer to a world where all children can participate, learn and gain the skills they need to thrive.”

The competition seeks technology-based innovations to increase access to sign languages and literacy interventions for deaf children in low-resource contexts. These innovations will assist parents, educators, communities, and governments in enhancing early childhood development outcomes, improving access to local sign languages, and increasing literacy outcomes of deaf children. The Sign On For Literacy competition is led by ACR GCD in collaboration with the World Federation of the Deaf, the Nyle DiMarco Foundation and Deaf Child Worldwide.

Of the estimated 32 million children around the world who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind (DHHDB), 80 percent do not have access to education, and only two percent receive instruction in sign language. This is particularly true in areas of the world with few resources, profoundly affecting children who already face tremendous barriers to economic and social advancement opportunities. Without early access to language, children fail to develop social and cognitive skills at the same rate as their peers, hindering their ability to learn to read and write and isolating them from society over the course of their lives.

“Throughout my life, I have been lucky to have the support of a family and school system that fully Screenshot of Millicent Simmonds Sign of For Literacy videoembraced sign language,” shared actress Millicent Simmonds, who recently made her acting debut in the critically-acclaimed film, Wonderstruck, and who is lending her support to the competition. “Because of that, I have benefited from the same opportunities as other children. But in many places, children who are deaf do not have access to their local sign language, causing them to fall behind during the critical learning period before age five. As a result, these children miss the opportunity to interact with family and friends, benefit from an education or even find a job. I am excited to be part of this important global initiative and to encourage the Deaf Community and all others to submit their innovative solutions to the Sign On For Literacy competition.”

Sign On For Literacy is accepting applications through February 16, 2018 from innovators interested in participating in the competition. Competition criteria can be found on the ACR GCD website. Following review, those selected to advance will be awarded seed funding to develop and pilot their innovation.

About the Partners
All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, established in 2011 as a partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision and the Australian Government, is a series of competitions that leverage science and technology to source, test and disseminate scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries. 

The World Federation of the Deaf is an international non-profit and non-governmental organisation that works for the realisation of deaf people’s human rights in partnership with the United Nations and its agencies, national organizations of deaf people, and relevant stakeholders.

The Nyle DiMarco Foundation is a non-profit organization that exists as a national philanthropic resource for all organizations, institutions and individuals working to improve the lives of every Deaf person in the world.

Deaf Child Worldwide is the international development arm of the UK National Deaf Children’s Society that works to enable deaf children and young people to be fully included in their family, education and community life.

For more information about the Sign On For Literacy competition visit www.AllChildrenReading.org or follow ACR GCD on Twitter @ReadingGCD or Facebook @AllChildrenReading.

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