All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD)—a partnership between the US Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision, and the Australian Government, that is a series of competitions that improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries—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 language 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.

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 embraced sign language,” said 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.

Source: ACR GCD

Image: ACR GCD