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

Assessing Auslan Development Tool

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

Fingerspelling Our Way to Reading

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:

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

  2. The selection of Lead Trainers from around Australia to support the implementation of the program.

  3. 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;

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