Deaf Literacy Initiative - Essential Skills

Case Study of the Deaf Literacy Initiative homepage
Client Description: 

The Deaf Literacy Initiative is a provincial umbrella organization that provides accessible and culturally relevant training, research, networking and resources to the Deaf and Deafblind literacy community in Ontario.

Project Objective: 

DLI required a website to provide learning modules for deaf individuals looking to upgrade their English-language literacy. DLI required that the content management system would be able to use videos extensively as well as easily provide quizzes throughout the site to assess learning progression.


The Essential Skills site is built using the Drupal content management system. It includes video-based menus, to help individuals navigate to main menu items, by watching the ASL. An online quiz allows individuals to assess their own learning abilities. Other quizzes throughout the site enable users to test their knowledge of what they have learned. Essential Skills Investigation (ESI) episodes grab the users' attention by adopting the style of the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) TV series.

The site required side-by-side ASL and English text for all content to make the site accessible to visitors with varying levels of English proficiency. This required some creative use of flash video next to content text and animated gifs for menu items. The animated gifs are "animated" when a mouse hovers over the menu item.

Throughout the process, the Deaf Literacy Initiative co-ordinated feedback from the Deaf and Deafblind literacy community. We began the process by creating a site in the SignLink CMS, to enable project co-ordinators to better collaborate. This site was intended to facilitate communication, including ASL-English interpretation. We made custom changes to the SignLink system, and contributed those changes back to the developers. Responding in an agile manner to the needs of the project co-ordinators, there was a movement toward more in-person discussions and other forms of communication as the project progressed. Throughout the process, we attempted to continually enhance the site to better meet the needs of visitors, and to create this educational and accessible site.