Exploring the Feasibility of Game-Based Tangible Resources in the Teaching of Deaf Preschoolers and their Hearing Peers

Carla Sousa, José Carlos Neves, Cátia Casimiro, Carlos Pereira dos Santos, Patrícia Carmo, Joana Mendes, Vasco Bila


In general, deaf education is a relatively neglected field, which needs attention, if societies want to ensure that schools are inclusive spaces, where learning is accessible. The present paper supports the development of a game-based tangible resource for deaf preschoolers, through co-creation and participatory action research, operationalized by the inclusion of teachers and educators in the process. Two case studies were developed, one quantitative survey and five focus group co-creation sessions, involving Portuguese sign language teachers, special education teachers, and teachers with only hearing students. Twenty-four teachers and educators answered the online survey and 19 participated in the focus groups. The results obtained in this study reinforce the need for more pedagogical materials, accessible for deaf children and can support the discussion around co-creation, participation, and representation as potential strategies to ensure it. The broad discussions raised by teachers and educators about the specificities of the educational needs of deaf children, while reinforcing school as still a disabling environment, can also support this and future approaches around accessibility, through proactive and digital inclusion-driven frameworks.


Acharya, D. & Wardrip-Fruin, N, (2019). Building worlds together: understanding collaborative co-creation of game worlds. Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, 1-5. https://doi.org/doi/10.1145/3337722.3337748

Ardiel, E. L., & Rankin, C. H. (2010). The importance of touch in development. Paediatrics & Child Health, 15(3), 153–156. https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/15.3.153

Avdiu, E. (2019). Game-Based Learning Practices in Austrian Elementary Schools. Educational Process: International Journal, 8(3), 196–206. https://doi.org/10.22521/edupij.2019.83.4

Baum, F., MacDougall, C., & Smith, D. (2006). Participatory action research. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 60(10), 854–857. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2004.028662

Bouzid, Y., Khenissi, M., Essalmi, F., & Jemni, M. (2016). Using Educational Games for Sign Language Learning - A Sign Writing Learning Game: Case Study. Educational Technology & Society, 19(1), 129-141.

Cojocariu, V.-M., & Boghian, I. (2014). Teaching the Relevance of Game-based Learning to Preschool and Primary Teachers. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 142, 640–646. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.07.679

Crookall, D. (2007). Editorial: Second language acquisition and simulation. Simulation and Gaming, 38(1), 6-8. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878106298609

de Freitas, S. (2018). Are games effective learning tools? A review of educational games. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 21(2), 74–84.

Del Moral Pérez, M. E., Guzmán Duque, A. P., & Fernández García, L. C. (2018). Game-Based Learning: Increasing the Logical-Mathematical, Naturalistic, and Linguistic Learning Levels of Primary School Students. Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, 7(1), 31–39. https://doi.org/10.7821/naer.2018.1.248

Desai, S. R. (2019). Youth Participatory Action Research: The Nuts and Bolts as well as the Roses and Thorns. In K. K. Strunk & L. A. Locke (Eds.), Research Methods for Social Justice and Equity in Education (pp. 125-135). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-05900-2

DGEEC (2018). Necessidades Especiais de Educação 2017/2018. [online] Direção-Geral de Estatísticas da Educação e Ciência. Available at: http://www.dgeec.mec.pt/np4/224/ [Accessed 22 Sep. 2021].

Edmondson, S., & Howe, J. (2019). Exploring the social inclusion of deaf young people in mainstream schools, using their lived experience. Educational Psychology in Practice, 35(2), 216–228. https://doi.org/10.1080/02667363.2018.1557113

Frasca. G. (2009). Juego, videojuego y creación de sentido. Una introducción. Comunicación, 7(1), 37-44.

Fryer, L. (2021, July 11-15). Introducing a Social Model of Media Accessibility. IAMCR 2021 Conference - Rethinking borders and boundaries: Beyond the global/local dichotomy in communication studies [Paper presentation], Nairobi, Kenya.

Khairuddin, K. F., & Miles, S. (2020). School staff members’ and parents’ experiences of the inclusion of deaf children in Malaysian mainstream schools. Education 3-13, 48(3), 273–287. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004279.2019.1664403

González Cuenca, A., Lavigne Cervan, R., & Prieto Cuberos, M. (2020). Do Deaf Learners Reach the Necessary Linguistic Comprehension? International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 67(1), 92–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/1034912X.2019.1682527

Hamari, J., Shernoff, D., Rowe, E., Coller, B., Asbell-Clarke, J., & Edwards, T. (2016). Challenging games help students learn: An empirical study on engagement, flow and immersion in game-based learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 170-179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.045

Kemmis, S. (2006). Participatory action research and the public sphere. Educational Action Research, 14(4), 459-476. https://doi.org/10.1080/09650790600975593

Khwaldeh, S., & Shah, M. (2010). The adaptability of an open source learning management system for deaf children in Jordan. 2nd IEEE International Conference on Information Management and Engineering, 34-39. https://doi.org/10.1109/ICIME.2010.5477480

Lamrani, R., & Abdelwahed, E. (2020). Game-based learning and gamification to improve skills in early years education. Computer Science and Information Systems, 17(1), 339–356. https://doi.org/10.2298/CSIS190511043L

Lincoln, Y. S., Lynham, S. A., & Guba, E. G. (2018). Paradigmatic Controversies, Contradictions, and Emerging Confluences, Revisited. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 213-263). SAGE.

Mackenzie, I., & Smith, A. (2009). Deafness — the neglected and hidden disability. Annals Of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology, 103(7), 565-571. https://doi.org/10.1179/000349809x12459740922372

Marschark, M., Spencer, P. E., Adams, J., & Sapere, P. (2011). Evidence‐based practice in educating deaf and hard‐of‐hearing children: Teaching to their cognitive strengths and needs. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 26(1), 3–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2011.543540

McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality Is Broken - Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. The Penguin Press.

Meyer, B. (2013). Game-Based Language Learning for Pre-School Children: A Design Perspective. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 11(1), 39–48.

Munoz-Baell, I. M., Alvarez-Dardet, C., Ruiz-Cantero, M., Ferreiro-Lago, E., & Aroca-Fernandez, E. (2011). Understanding Deaf bilingual education from the inside: A SWOT analysis. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(9), 865–889. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110802669342

Neves, J. C., & Sousa, C. (2019). Developing Pedagogical Videogames to Support Math Learning in Deaf Children: A Work in Progress (Phases 1-3). Proceedings of the 12th European Conference on Game Based Learning, 1019-1023. https://doi.org/10.34190/GBL.19.169

Ngobeni, W. P., Maimane, J. R., & Rankhumise, M. P. (2020). The effect of limited sign language as barrier to teaching and learning among Deaf learners in South Africa. South African Journal of Education, 40(2), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.15700/saje.v40n2a1735

Nunes, L. & Barroco, J. (2014). O ensino da Matemática para os alunos surdos. Educação e Matemática, 126, 39-42.

Nunes, T., Bryant, P., Burman, D., Bell, D., Evans, D., & Hallett, D. (2008). Deaf Children’s Informal Knowledge of Multiplicative Reasoning. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 14(2), 260–277. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enn040

O’Connor, C., & Joffe, H. (2020). Intercoder Reliability in Qualitative Research: Debates and Practical Guidelines. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 19. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406919899220

Ortega, L. (1997). Processes and outcomes in networked classroom interaction: Defining the research agenda for L2 computer-assisted classroom discussion. Language, Learning & Technology, 1(1), 82-93.

Pagliaro, C. M., & Kritzer, K. L. (2010). Learning to learn: An analysis of early learning behaviours demonstrated by young deaf/hard-of-hearing children with high/low mathematics ability. Deafness & Education International, 12(2), 54-76. https://doi.org/10.1179/146431510X12626982043723

Plaza-Pust, C. (2005). Language contact in deaf bilingualism. In H. Leuninger & D. Happ (Eds.) Gebärdensprachen: Struktur, Erwerb, Verwendung (pp. 271-307). Helmut Buske.

Poissant, L. (2003). Esthétique des arts médiatiques: Interfaces et sensorialité. Publications de l'Université de Saint-Étienne; Presses de l'Université du Québec.

Saéz-Lopéz, J., Vázquez-Cano, E., & Domínguez-Garrido, M. (2015). Exploring Application, Attitudes and Integration of Video Games: MinecraftEdu in Middle School. Educational Technology & Society, 18(3), 114-128.

Sibanda, P., & Tlale, L. D. N. (2019). Challenges Experienced in the Practice of Sign Bilingual Education as a Strategy for Inclusion of Deaf Children in Mainstream Schools in Zimbabwe. Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 16(1), 1–12.

Shivshwan, K., Wang, C-J., & Pongnumkul, S. (2016). Exploring the Design and Evaluation of an Educational Game for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students in Thailand. i-CREATe 2016: Proceedings of the international Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology, 1-4. https://doi.org/10.5555/3014393.3014401

Smith, C., & Allman, T. (2020). Diversity in deafness: Assessing students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Psychology in the Schools, 57(3), 362–374. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.22310

Sousa, C. & Costa, C. (2018). Videogames as a learning tool: is game-based learning more effective?. Revista Lusófona de Educação, 40, 199-240. https://doi.org/10.24140/issn.1645-7250.rle40.13

Sousa, C., Henriques, S., & Costa, C. (2017). Are Videogames a Waste of Time? - The Pedagogical Value of Videogames: a Multi-Stakeholder Approach. Proceedings of EDULEARN17 Conference, 2336-2341. http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.1484

Tokac, U., Novak, E., & Thompson, C. G. (2019). Effects of game‐based learning on students’ mathematics achievement: A meta‐analysis. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35(3), 407–420. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12347

Ucus, S. (2021). Elementary School Teachers’ Views on Game-based Learning as a Teaching Method. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 186, 401-409. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.216

Wagner, J. (1990). Kommunikative spil i fremmedsprogsundervisningen. Åløkke

DOI: https://doi.org/10.51383/jesma.2022.34