December 2, 2021
The Asia Foundation’s (TAF) Let’s Read Asia project under the Begin with Books prize has taken another step in collaborating with national governments as it creates and adapts 380 children’s books in six local spoken and signed languages across Laos, Nepal and Papua New Guinea.
In October 2021, one of TAF’s Let’s Read language partners in Nepal, the National Federation of the Deaf (NDFN), met with government officials from the Inclusive Education section of the Center for Education and Human Development (CEHRD) at Nepal’s Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology to review sign language videos created by NDFN.
“The Inclusive Education section provided valuable feedback on the cultural appropriateness and relevance of the video stories, as well as the development of new Nepali Sign Language words to better communicate the stories to children” says Kyle Barker, Books for Asia Associate Director with The Asia Foundation, who leads the Let’s Read project.
NDFN also had the opportunity to meet with members of the audio video section, the Curriculum Development Center, and the CEHRD.
“Coordination with all three units of the Nepali government has been essential to create a robust and fully supported project for these much needed videos,” says Barker.
The sign language videos are part of 50 adapted books in Nepali Sign Language being created through the Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read initiative. The books will be published on the Global Digital Library and the Let’s Read digital library, free web-based platforms that make high-quality early learning resources available.
Around the world, millions of children have few to no books in languages they use and understand, thereby impeding their access to quality education. For the more than 93 million children with disabilities, the shortage of books is even more severe, as resources, if available at all, often lack accessible formats.
Literacy, especially reading, is a cornerstone of development, placing children on a path for future success in school, employment, health and society–and research shows that children experience greater reading success when learning in their local spoken or signed language. Providing engaging and accessible books allows children who are blind to listen to audiobooks with image descriptions and children who are deaf to view a story in sign language. Books in local spoken and signed languages, like those being created by NDFN, are essential to empowering and supporting these children on their path to literacy.