The project ‘Spread the sign – Syria’ is funded from Erasmus+ Adult and aims to support the educational needs of adult deaf Syrian migrants by adding the Syrian Sign Language to an already existing online educational tool “Spread the Sign” (www.spreadthesign.com). “Spread the Sign” is a free visual sign language dictionary on the web that started as a Leonardo pilot project in 2006 and today it has more than 27 countries and 310.000 sign language videos.
Adding the Syrian Sign Language to the online dictionary aims to benefit Syrian deaf migrants, sign language teachers for adults and others interested to help this disadvantaged group such as migrant organisations working with/for migrants. It will facilitate their integration process to the host country as well as their educational opportunities by helping them to learn the local sign language. Up to today, there is no existing online dictionary and educational tool for the deaf refugees/immigrants. This project provides them with the human right of access to their language and makes it easier to learn a new one.
All countries participating in the project have accepted vast numbers of Syrian migrants. So apart from translating the dictionary in Arabic language and Syrian Sign Language it is of most importance to strengthen up the sign languages of Sweden, Turkey and Germany (already existing in the dictionary before the beginning of the project) in order to cope with the theme of the Syrian migrants. In addition, Greek, Cypriot and Bulgarian sign languages were added to the dictionary as well, as these neighbouring countries to Syria and Turkey are in great need to support appropriately the hearing impaired Syrian migrants.
The dictionary of Spread the Sign has collected and documented over 400,000 signs, but much work remains to be done and all the organisations involved are constantly working on quality improvement. This pedagogic self-learning tool is free to use for everyone in the world, each partner country represented has its own team with responsibility for their language on this web site. If they are not experts themselves it is their responsibility to connect sign language experts for proofreading. Spread the sign website helps thousands of people every day, to find the sign they are searching for. The dictionary is also available as an app for smartphones and tablets with the name ‘Spread signs’.
In the last few years, more than 10.000 signs in Greek were documented, proofread, taped and edited. In April 2020, a Facebook page for the Greek part of Spread the Sign was launched. The Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/spreadthesigngr/ . Almost every day, new content is uploaded in the Facebook page – where one can find videos about the communication in sign languages, videos about baby signs and short, funny stories.