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

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 support staff working in educational 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 is currently developing the Professional Standards for Educational Interpreters which comprehensively define the various competencies required of this specialised role.

The Professional Standards for Educational Interpreters are the first of their kind in Australia and provide a framework for the assessment, review and ongoing development of the Educational Interpreter workforce. Associated initiatives such as a training course, mentoring program and policy development are in the planning stage and will further support this framework

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

VDEI is leading a national project to support the adaptation of the Fingerspelling our Way to Reading program through a professional partnership with the University of Colorado and the Queensland Department of Education and Training.

A successful trial of the program has been completed in Queensland and VDEI has facilitated the printing and distribution of the resource materials to Lead Trainers across Australia who are implementing the program.

The Australian adaptation of the program has involved:

  • The translation of program resources (Fingerspelling Our Way to Reading kits) from American Sign Language (ASL) to Australian Sign Language (Auslan).
  • The selection of Lead Trainers from around Australia to support the implementation of the program.
  • A train the trainer model, whereby lead trainers will be supported to upskill other educators in their respective States or Territories to deliver the program in Australian schools.

If you would like more information about the Fingerspelling our Way to Reading program, the following on-demand presentation is available as way of introduction;

On-Demand presentation: Fingerspelling and Literacy Skills in deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) children 

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