OUR ADDRESS AND CONTACT INFORMATION IN THE UNITED STATES:
Nicaraguan Sign Language Projects, Inc.
52 Whitney Farms Road
North Yarmouth, Maine USA 04097
Tel: 207-847-3074 cell: 207-409-6906
OUR CORPORATE STRUCTURE:
We are incorporated in the State of New Jersey and registered to conduct business in the State of Maine. NSLP also is formally registered with the Nicaraguan Government as an NGO. NSLP is a nonprofit charitable organization that enjoys tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (EIN: 22-3377779). Our organization is overseen by an uncompensated Board of Trustees consisting of linguists from the United States and Great Britain and a social worker from Nicaragua. NSLP is a secular organization; we are not affiliated with any religious denomination. We operate projects in collaboration with public and private entities, secular and non-secular, serving Deaf people in Nicaragua.
Nicaraguan Sign Langauge Projects, Inc. administers programs designed to empower Nicaragua's emergent Deaf communities by fostering nationalization of the indigenous signed language and by training natively fluent Deaf Nicaraguans to be school teachers and sign language role models. We operate sign language immersion clinics and outreach projects for Deaf children who otherwise would have no access to a first language. And, we train and assign sign language fluent Deaf teachers to work both independently and alongside hearing teachers in established school programs in order to creat a sign language rich classroom environment.
Committed to the philosophy that Deaf Nicaraguans must help each other, NSLP's focus has been on preparing talented young Deaf people to become teachers and role models for the next generation of Deaf children. We believe that language is fundamental to human existence. Developing a modicum of communication skills in the society's dominant speech driven language may be a worthwhile goal for some Deaf children. However, this is no substitute for native language skills. For most, if not all, Deaf children in Nicaragua, a sign language presents the only viable option as a medium for native or first language acquisition. Beyond the personal and social benefits that sign language brings to a Deaf child within his or her Deaf community, a fluent Deaf signer is better able to develop communication strategies for interacting with hearing people and for surviving in a hearing society.
Out of respect for Nicaraguan culture and identity, NSLP advocates immersing Nicaraguan Deaf children in their country's indigenous sign language. ISN (Idioma de Señ
as de Nicaragua), while only a generation old, is not in any respect a lesser language when compared to older sign languages or, for that matter, spoken languages. Rather, Nicaraguan Sign Language is as sophisticated, rule governed and versatile as any human language. This is hardly surprising to linguists who appreciate that like all languages, Nicaragua's sign language emerged among a human population.
There is no teaching methodology for teaching a first language to a child. Rather, the child must be placed in a language rich and a language accessible environment in order to be immersed in the target language. The child will then naturally acquire native language skills over time.
(Late language learners may require a more directed approach.)
Deaf teachers trained by NSLP are fluent native signers. Their presence and their active participation in educational programs creates a language rich environment for Deaf students.
NSLP has openings from time to time for qualified volunteers wishing to work for us both in Nicaragua and in Maine, USA. We prefer volunteers who are sign language fluent (in any sign language) and/or have formal linguistic training. Fluency in either Spanish or English is also desirable. Volunteers are admonished not to contaminate Nicaraguan Sign Language with lexicon from any foreign sign language. We recognize that borrowing is a normal function of language evolution; however, our volunteers must not be the source. References and a criminal background check are mandatory. Volunteers wishing to conduct independent linguistic or sociological research involving Deaf informants in Nicaragua must demonstrate compliance with their own institution's human subject testing protocols, must demonstrate familiarity with our protocols, and must agree to share data both with NSLP and with ANSNIC (Nicaraguan National Deaf Association). NSLP generally does not subsidize travel, meal or lodging costs for volunteers. Most volunteers are expected to attend training sessions in Maine before coming to Nicaragua.