logo blue

Deaf Museums: The Development of Open Educational Resources to train Deaf sign language users in Museum and eneral entrepreneurial skills.

Erasmus+ project number 2020-1-IT02-KA204-079582
Starting date: 1 October 2020
Duration: 30 months

Official Summary

In the EU member states, approximately 750.000 people are deaf from an early age and use a sign language as their preferred language. Deaf people not only have their ownIn the EU member states, approximately 750.000 people are deaf from an early age and use a sign language as their preferred language. Deaf people not only have their ownlanguage, but also their own culture: Deaf Culture.

The education of deaf children has a long -, and controversial - history going back centuries. Today, most hearing people do knowabout sign language, but they may know little or nothing about Deaf Culture, Deaf Education. Deaf Clubs, for centuries the centres of Deaf Culture, are disappearing quickly or have vanished already. Most deaf children are now mainstreamed. As a result, the heritage of Deaf people is at risk.

In the Deaf Museums project, we will develop Open Educational Resources (OER), including an online training course in museum and general entrepreneurial skills for and by Deaf sign language users, to promote, preserve and share the Deaf Heritage.

The Deaf Museums project has 2 long term goals:

1. To promote, preserve and share the Deaf Heritage and by doing so: to promote Deaf awareness in the widest sense possible.

2. To improve the employability of Deaf sign language users and the success of Deaf entrepreneurs by providing them with the necessary mindset and skills. In so doing, it will support the Erasmus+ goals for the participants in Strategic Partnerships: increased capacity and professionalism to work at EU/international level: improved management competences and internationalisation strategies; reinforced cooperation with partners from other countries and other cultures.

Short term objectives of the project are:

1. To develop online Open Educational Resources including a training course in basic Museum skills, for and by Deaf sign language users. The course will include examples, guidelines, signed stories and case studies, all produced and/or tested by the participants in the project. Included will be topics that state of the art mainstream museums areaddressing: “Who are museums for and why are they working to engage new audiences? How do visitors respond emotionally to museum objects and spaces? And how can museumsplay a role in the pursuit of social justice, human rights, or health and well being?” (https://www.culturepartnership.eu/en/article/5-free-online-courses-for-museum-workers). Special attention will be given to the use of social media and ICT tools. All information will be in International Sign, written English, and as many of the partners’ signed and written languages as possible.as possible.

2. To output case studies and good examples of museum exhibitions (e.g. about Deaf Culture, Deaf Art, Deaf people during WWII, Deaf migrants, Deaf in the European Union), produced by the participants in the project. The case studies and exhibitions will be used as examples in the training course and to promote the project and disseminate its results both during and after the project's lifetime.

3. To research the state of the art in this field through surveys and interviews, to use the results to set up a platform for the promotion of real and virtual Deaf museums and DeafHeritage initiatives, nationally, across Europe and globally, and to promote and support transnational collaboration in this field.

Methodology and participating organisations:

The participating organisations represent a diverse mix of organisations from different fields of education, training, and other socio-economic sectors, including institutes of highereducation, NGO's and SME's, from 7 European countries. In the consortium, participants from 'the Deaf world' and from the 'mainstream Museum world' will work together to produce high quality results and output by sharing and comparing each other's expertise.

Our methodology will be based on peer-learning and challenge-based learning. Partners as well as several invited experts will share their expertise in specific fields. Partners will be asked to find solutions for the challenges that Museums in general, and Deaf Museums in particular have to deal with. They will learn practical entrepreneurial skills by planning, producing, promoting and evaluating the exhibitions that they will develop during the project.

At each consortium meeting, they will be interviewed about the work they have done andabout lessons learned. These interviews will be included in the OER and will be used to disseminate information about the project, both during and after the project's lifetime.

Impact and potential longer term benefits:

Interest in the Deaf Heritage and Deaf Culture and how to preserve and share these has been growing rapidly in recent years. Therefore, we expect the project to have a major impact on Deaf people and Deaf Organisations in general, and on Deaf Museums and similar initiatives in particular. We also expect the project to have impact on mainstream Museump rofessionals.

Long term benefits:

Bridging gaps between generations of Deaf people, between Deaf and hearing people, and between Deaf and mainstream Museum professionals.



  • "As recently as the 1970s, deaf history did not exist. There were available sketches of various hearing men, primarily teachers, who were credited with bringing knowledge and enlightenment to generations of deaf children, but deaf adults were absent."

    In: Preface to: "Deaf History Unvailed, Interpretations from the New Scholarship". John Vickrey van Cleve, editor
    Publisher: Gallaudet University Press, 1993

  • "Deaf people have always had a sense of their history as it was being passed down in stories told by generations of students walking in the hallways of their residential schools and by others who congregated in their clubs, ran associations, attended religious services, and played in sporting events.

    With these activities, the deaf community exhibited hallmarks of agency — an effort to maintain their social, cultural, and political autonomy amid intense pressure to conform as hearing, speaking people."

    BRIAN H. GREENWALD AND JOSEPH J. MURRAY, in: Sign Language Studies, Volume 17, Number 1, Fall 2016

  • “One story makes you weak. But as soon as we have one-hundred stories, you will be strong.”

    Chris Cleave in "Little Bee", 2008

  • "Until the fall semester of 1986, the history department at Gallaudet University had never before offered a course in the history of deaf people.

    In the 122 years, to that point, since the founding of the university, which was specifically intended for the education of deaf peoples, no one had ever taught a course about this very group of people.

    In all of those years the history department had offered courses on a wide range of topics but never deaf history. "

    ENNIS, WILLIAM T., et al. “A Conversation: Looking Back on 25 Years of A Place of Their Own.” Sign Language Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, 2016, pp. 26–41. 

  • "Histories have for too long emphasized the controversies over communication methods and the accomplishments of hearing people in the education of deaf students. with inadequate attention paid to those deaf individuals who created communication bridges and distinguished themselves as change agents in their respective field of endeavour."

    from: Harry G. Lang, Bonny Meath-Lang: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences, 1995

  • " Museums can increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, and inspire, challenge and stimulate us."

    Source: https://www.museumsassociation.org/campaigns/museums-change-lives/

  • “If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are,
    and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going.
    And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.”

    Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight