VDEI is committed to strengthen deaf education's place in the inclusive education field through targeted research and the identification of exemplary practice.

VDEI aims to inform professional practice and policy development by growing the evidence base around practices that achieve strong academic and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

VDEI is strategic in our approach, focusing on programs, projects and initiatives underpinned by strong research findings and expert knowledge.

Projects, research and initiatives currently underway include;

  • Fingerspelling Our Way to Reading
  • Educational Interpreter Project
  • Impact of Classroom environment on auditory comprehension
  • Hearing Impairment/Auditory Processing Disorder and Academic Progress in Victorian Primary School Children
  • Automatic Captioning and Transcription Trial - Piloting emerging learning technologies
  • Educational Interpreters workforce project

In 2019, VDEI completed an action research project in partnership with the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association (ASLIA) Victoria that identified key workforce initiatives required to support and upskill the Educational Interpreter workforce in Victoria. Educational interpreters are specialised education support staff working in primary and secondary settings who provide deaf and hard of hearing students with access to the learning environment in Auslan and English.

Based on the findings of this project, VDEI has developed the Professional Standards for Educational Interpreters , a framework that identifies the standards, knowledge and competencies required by educational interpreters working in Primary and Secondary schools.

Associated initiatives to support the educational interpreter workforce include on-demand learning modules, a mentoring program, an online virtual community of practice and working with the training sector to increase the number of Educational Interpreters.  

VDEI has also developed the Educational Interpreter Virtual Hub , an online community of practice for educational interpreters.

If your school would like to know more about the Standards, or the work VDEI is doing to support the interpreter workforce, our Project Officer is available to visit your school. Information about the Standards, how to implement them and training is available onsite.

To make contact with our Project Officer or to find out more about this project, please email

The assessment of Auslan competence is essential for understanding and supporting the language and learning needs of signing deaf students in their educational programs. In 2016 VDEI partnered with Associate Professor Adam Schembri and La Trobe University to publish the first standardised assessment tool for Auslan.

The Assessing Auslan Development tool has been adapted from the Assessing British Sign Language Development: Receptive Skills Test and the Assessing British Sign Language Development: Production Skills Test and measures the Auslan competence of children aged between 4 and 11 years. Analysis of assessment results enables professionals working with children who are deaf to make a baseline assessment, identify language difficulties, and evaluate the outcomes of therapy programs. The results of the testing provide detailed information to teachers to inform their individual planning for students in their class to ensure that they are providing the appropriate adjustments for the student.

Educators and allied health professionals who are fluent in Auslan and are experienced in working with assessment protocols, are encouraged to undertake training to be accredited to use the Assessing Auslan Development tool. Training is directed towards professionals working with deaf children between the ages of 4-11 years who use Auslan as a first language or children who are learning English and Auslan bilingually.

About the project lead - Adam Schembri PhD is Reader in Linguistics in the Department of English Language & Linguistics at the University of Birmingham, UK. His research and teaching experience have encompassed several areas in sign language linguistics, including work on aspects of the lexicon, grammar and sociolinguistics of Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and British Sign Language. He is the co-author (with Trevor Johnston) of 'Australian Sign Language (Auslan): An introduction to sign language linguistics' published by Cambridge University Press.

To find out more or register your interest in undertaking accredited training please email

The Victorian Deaf Education Institute (VDEI) is leading a national project to support the implementation of the Fingerspelling our Way to Reading program in Australian schools.

The Fingerspelling our Way to Reading program is an evidence-based, supplementary early literacy program developed in the United States specifically for deaf and hard-of-hearing students who are not able to develop phonological awareness through listening to develop literacy skills. 

The Fingerspelling our Way to Reading program has two components:

  1. Phonological Fingerspelling

  2. Reading Comprehension

The national project commenced in 2018 and has involved:

  1. A professional partnership between VDEI, the Queensland Department of Education and Professor Brenda Schick from the University of Colorado Boulder to adapt the Fingerspelling our Way to Reading program for use with Auslan

  2.  The translation of program resources (Fingerspelling Our Way to Reading kits) from American Sign Language (ASL) to Australian Sign Language (Auslan).

  3. The selection of Lead Trainers from around Australia to support the implementation of the program in each State and Territory.

  4.  The development of a Train the Trainer model, whereby lead trainers are supported to upskill other educators to deliver the program in Australian schools.

  5.  Periodic collection of data to track the outcomes of deaf and hard of hearing students participating in the Fingerspelling our Way to Reading program around Australia

If you would like more information about the Fingerspelling our Way to Reading program, the following online resources are available on our website:

For further information please contact VDEI