It has been estimated that India has the largest number of hearing impaired people in the world. Sign language is their natural language. With this in mind and in order to prepare future sign language teachers, interpretertrainers and sign language resource persons for schools of the hearing impaired, Ignou — in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire, UK — offers a three-year programme — Bachelor of Arts in Applied Sign Language Studies (BAASLS). Another programme offered by Ignou is the Bachelor’s Preparatory Programme for Deaf Students (BPPDS) which is essentially a one-year preparatory course for students wishing to enter the BAASLS course, but who do not have sufficient English Language or study skills.
“The number of hearing impaired people in India is about eight million. There are only 550 schools for them. One out of every 10 of these children goes to school and 50% of them drop out at the age of 13. Only 25 schools offer higher secondary education,” says Michael W Morgan, senior consultant with BAASLS, Ignou.
He continues, “Starting in 2001, the National Institute for the Hearing Handicap has initiated courses for training interpreters of Indian sign language. A number of NGOs around the country have likewise started teaching literacy through sign language. With the growing demand for teachers of Indian sign language, there is a shortage of qualified people to fill those positions. Students who complete the BAASLS programme will be well placed to do exactly that.”
The BAASLS course teaches students the basics of linguistics of sign languages, applied linguistics like peer mentoring, first and second language acquisition, bi-lingualism, literacytraining and fundamentals of interpreting, among others.
WHAT IT OFFERS
The primary advantage of doing this course is that it is one of the very few degree-level programmes in India, which is taught completely in sign language and, thus, fully accessible to students. In fact, all classes are taught through the medium of Indian sign language, and the course-work may typically be submitted in either Indian sign language or written English.
“An additional benefit of the course is that, on graduation, students will be awarded a BA degree from both Ignou and the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. The BAASLS curriculum, designed in the UK, emphasises a combination of lectures, class-discussion and presentations, lab work, collaborative and independent learning projects, etc.
Experiential reflective modules are also an essential part of the curriculum. Thus, students gain an entire skill-set, much in demand in the new globalised India, which will set them apart from other graduates,” informs Morgan.
Eligibility for BPPDS is flexible. Although fluency in sign language is required, a class X pass or equivalent experience along with it is considered the norm. At least some minimal level of English literacy is also required.
Eligibility for entry into the BAASLS course is +2, fluency in sign language, and a demonstration of sufficient English to perform satisfactorily in the course (a BPPDS certificate or equivalent is accepted as proof of this level of English).
The maximum seats for any given year of the course are 41. The fee for BPPDS course is Rs 10,000 per-annum, and for BAASLS is Rs 12,000 per-annum.
Application for admission for BPPDS and BAASLS courses for the 2011-2012 academic year is now open.
Forms can either be collected directly from the office or request for forms can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Last day for receiving admission fee is July 30.