Project Summary

Project Number: 2016-1-UK01-KA202-024361
1 September 2016 - 31 August 2018

Sign languages are recognised as equal languages of the EU. Sign language users, however, are a traditionally underserved minority. Many Deaf sign language users are unemployed or working in unfulfilling and/or unrewarding jobs.

Entrepreneurship is recognised as a key competence that enables people to develop the skills they need for life and work. Entrepreneurship education generally addresses active citizenship, social entrepreneurship, venture creation as well as employability (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2016. Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union), and is considered a priority at all levels of education throughout Erasmus+.

All or most of the mainstream resources in this field, however, are not accessible to Deaf sign language users: texts do not meet their reading requirements, videos are not subtitled, examples, tools and other resources are inappropriate or inaccessible, mainstream support services, career counselors, mentors, trainers have little or no experience with sign language users. As a result, in the UK labour market, one in five of deaf respondents were unemployed and looking for work compared with one in twenty in the overall UK labour market (RNID, 2006).

The objective of the Deaf Enterprise project is to develop, test and implement an OER and curriculum for Deaf sign language users of all ages and all backgrounds that meet their specific strengths as well as requirements. All output will be developed by and for Deaf sign language users from day one and will include interviews with successful Deaf entrepreneurs, training modules, examples, videos, interactive resources, guidelines, and more. All information will be tested for its accessibility, appropriateness and attractiveness for the target groups. To this end, we will organise a transnational training event and several national multiplier events. The output of the project can be used for individual study, for dedicated training programmes for Deaf sign language users, and to supplement/support mainstream entrepreneur education activities with Deaf participants.

The University of Central Lancashire is the main contractor and has an international reputation for its Deaf Studies and Interpreter Training programmes, its International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies (iSLanDS), its Institute for Innovation, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and its many activities and online and face to face resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. A transnational consortium will add experts, skills, and knowledge from additional perspectives, cultures, countries. A large international network will support the project, not just within the EU but globally.

The Deaf Enterprise target group is not limited to Deaf sign language users in the participating countries, but will include Deaf sign language users across the EU and possibly worldwide. Therefore, the OER and curriculum will be made available in International Sign and (easy to read) English, as well as in the sign languages of partners.

Because so little is available for our target groups, we will not limit ourselves to young people; we will make sure that all the project's output can be used by, or adapted for a wide range of Deaf sign language users: different age-groups, nationalities, interests, backgrounds. An EU wide Survey will provide the project with input and feedback and will result in a report and recommendations for the training and support of Deaf entrepreneurs.

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  • Ramon Woolfe (Trainer at the UCLan workshop)

    "By the end of the workshop they all displayed a renewed confidence to be able to go home and act upon their aim of setting up their business idea."

  • Jakob Gade (DK)

    "The best way to create more jobs for deaf people? More businesses run by deaf entrepreneurs!"

  • Ramon Woolfe (Trainer at the UCLan workshop)

    "The level of quality engagement was so great that we often would not have enough time in the day to discuss all the points the participants wanted to discuss and would often spill over into our tea break or lunchtime to continue the discussions.

    All of which shows how great the need is by Sign language users to have this direct dialogue in their own language."

  • Deaf Enterprise Survey

    "Keep an open attitude; co-operate with other Deaf business people. Use 'we' instead of 'I'."

  • Ramon Woolfe (Trainer at the UCLan workshop)

    "There are plenty of opportunities for Deaf people to set up their own business not just in the traditional areas of teaching sign language and interpreting services but also in all areas of the economy from retail, to service industries such as restaurants, leisure such as a gym.

    I really would like to see more Deaf entrepreneurs showing that they can do it.

  • Clark Denmark (Trainer at the UCLan workshop)

    " Therefore, without Deaf role models being here it would be difficult for many Deaf participants to imagine and believe in what they could achieve."

  • Clark Denmark (Trainer at UCLan workshop)

    "In the past Deaf people have had to travel many miles to find a course which is then predominantly hearing people and hearing led. This has made participation and involvement very problematic for Deaf people who have said comments such as: “I didn’t understand what the trainer was saying.” Also, “I found it difficult to mix with others in the group.”

  • Clark Denmark (Trainer at the UCLan workshop)

    "The workshop was extremely worthwhile; especially when one considers there has been nothing of its type in the UK before."

  • Deaf Enterprise Survey

    "I only will say: Go on! Use help from everybody, both from government and in your network. A lot of people are helpful with sharing informations and so on."

  • Deaf Enterprise Survey

    "Don't afraid to make mistakes. Making mistakes is okay and you learn most from this. Don't afraid to ask for help if it's something wrong."

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