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Jamaican Sign Language Learning Management System (LMS) Aims to Enhance Literacy Among Students with Hearing Impairment

March 15, 2021

The Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD), in collaboration with US and local partners, has launched Jamaica’s first-ever Jamaican Sign Language Learning Management System (LMS).

The virtual system uses the unique Jamaican Sign Language (JSL) to contextualize learning in the Jamaican deaf experience, as a strategy for improving literacy development among Jamaican students who are Deaf and Hard-of- Hearing (D/HH).

Like the spoken patois and/or English language is natural for most hearing Jamaicans, the signed Jamaican Sign Language (JSL) language is natural for Deaf Jamaicans.

The LMS will further help to build the D/HH students’ capacity to learn English as a second language and is expected to add significant academic value to the Deaf Community, especially now given the interruption of face-to-face learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The system was launched through collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI) and other partners.

Education Minister Fayval Williams said: “As a matter of policy, the ministry has been encouraging greater use of digital technology where possible and to achieve that, we have [rallied] additional support from corporate Jamaica. [As a result of this collaboration] some private sector donors have committed to providing devices specifically for the D/HH students who need help in purchasing devices”.

The minister was speaking at the LMS launch and close-out ceremony for the Partnership for Literacy Enhancement for the Deaf (PLED) Project, held on February 3, 2021, at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston.

The development of the LMS was in response to a need to create an accessible database of a wide range of JSL resources to include the JSL Grammar Curriculum for D/HH students and their teachers.

The need was heightened by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the JAD quickly pivoted objectives to ensure a continued and improved educational experience for D/HH children via interactive virtual classrooms.

“COVID-19 has affected all of us and I have no doubt that the impacts on the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students have been profound [especially] since in-person activities were severely restricted,” Shannon Stone, Director of the Office of Citizen Security for USAID/Jamaica told attendees at the ceremony.

Echoing Stone’s sentiment and giving an even more detailed glimpse into how the concept of the LMS came to life, Executive Director at JAD, Kimberley Marriott-Blake said: “As COVID came along we recognized the value of having a system that would be able to house this multitude of resources that we had developed under the PLED project.”

This LMS is something that the general public, teachers, D/HH students and D/HH culture facilitators will be able to benefit from and ensures that even outside of the [physical] classroom there is structured language and literacy development support for our students, Marriot-Blake noted.

The JSL LMS is one of several successful outputs of the 46-month PLED Project, designed to advance literacy development among Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students in Jamaica.

It can be accessed at

The project was funded by USAID at a cost of approximately US$2.5 million and was implemented by JAD in all schools for the Deaf across Jamaica.

Source: Loop Jamaica