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    CSD Proudly Announces the Russian-American Project for Children’s Literacy

    - by Alex Karamanova

    By Alex Karamanova

    Communication Service for the Deaf is pleased to announce our newest international partnership initiative, the Russian-American Partnership for Children’s Literacy (RAP4CL). A CSD Neighborhood Project, RAP4CL will highlight the importance of language acquisition for deaf and hard of hearing children in the United States and Russia through the collaborative development and deployment of innovative educational resources in both countries. We’re excited to welcome our Russian partners, Ya Tebya Slyshu, a St. Petersburg-based non-profit organization that provide resources, support and advocacy for deaf and hard of hearing children and their families to kick-off the partnership this week. We’re also proud to partner with Melissa Malzkuhn and Dr. Melissa Herzig of the Visual Language and Visual Learning Center (VL2), an NSF-funded Science of Learning center on this initiative.

    Phase one of RAP4CL will focus on the development of four visual storybooks created with VL2’s Storybook Creator program (learn more about these storybooks at http://vl2storybookapps.com/). The project will create an all new original storybook after a popular Russian children’s story ‘The Giant Turnip,’ with two versions planned: Russian Sign Language (RSL)/written Russian and American Sign Language (ASL)/written English. Deaf Russian artist Alexei Svetlov is creating original artwork for the Giant Turnip storybook. The remaining two storybooks will be RSL/written Russian translations of existing VL2 Storybooks ‘Baobab’ and ‘Blue Lobster.’

    During Ya Tebya Slyshu’s visit to Austin, they will participate in presentations and workshops conducted by Ms. Malzkuhn and Dr. Herzig on early language exposure and its impact on the development of brain, language and cognitive development, and training on the use of the VL2 Storybook Creator program to develop visual storybooks. Together, our team will shoot film for the first storybook, the RSL/Russian version of The Giant Turnip. This November, our U.S. team will travel to St. Petersburg and Moscow for a second site visit to participate in presentations and roundtable discussions on the state of bilingual education in the United States and Russia. At the Russian team’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, a videographer from CSD’s Creative team will lead a hands-on training that will establish a Russian-based creative studio focused on the continued development of bilingual education resources to encourage language acquisition for deaf and hard of hearing children throughout Russia. Our long term vision for this initiative is to empower the broad development of high quality bilingual education resources and spark interest and recognition of the critical importance of early language acquisition for deaf and hard of hearing children in both the U.S. and Russia.

    You can follow RAP4CL project activities on CSD’s social media and on our RAP4CL blog.

    This project is funded by the US-Russian Social Expertise Exchange program under the Eurasia Foundation.