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Austria‘s educational system for the deaf (unsuccessfully) focuses on the learning of the German spoken language. At schools for the deaf sign language is not the teaching language. In equalizent all courses for the deaf are held optionally in Austrian sign or spoken language.
Of the 45 employees 17 are deaf. Therefore equalizent is the biggest employer for the deaf in Europe. The company is bilingual (Austrian sign language and German) – hearing employees have to learn sign language. All facilities (even toilets) are handicapped-accessible. Special lights (doorbell, fire detectors) are installed for deaf and hard of hearing people. In the course rooms, the arrangement of tables if made according to the needs of deaf people to have visual contact with the other participants.
Their website is accessible for blind people as well. All content is translated into sign language via video. equalizent newsletter is translated into sign language too. Furthermore it is in simple language, so people with learning disabilities are able to read it. The presenters of all videos (website, newsletter) are deaf people.
In the course smartboards, tablets and special video equipment is used to meet the visual needs of the deaf. Our courses can be booked as webinars as well, so people who aren’t mobile or living in Vienna can attend the courses. The language niveau is adjusted to the abilities of the participants. Nearly all of the participants are deaf. This peer-approach increases the motivation of learners, since the trainers become role models. The EU-project Vidusign, of which equalizent is a partner, supports the usage of visual techniques in courses. Through the usage of video techniques, a tool is used which is specific for the special (visual) abilities of deaf.