Call for Innovations: Sign On For Literacy Global Prize 2018

Call for Innovations: Sign On For Literacy Global Prize 2018

Deadline: February 16, 2018

The All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is now accepting submissions for the Sign On For Literacy Global Prize, a new competition to ensure all deaf children achieve literacy. The Sign On For Literacy global prize competition seeks to identify and support technology-based innovations to increase sign language and literacy outcomes for deaf children in low resource settings.

These innovations will assist parents, educators, communities, and governments in enhancing early childhood development outcomes, improving access to local sign languages, and increasing literacy outcomes of deaf children. The competition is led by ACR GCD in collaboration with the World Federation of the Deaf, the Nyle DiMarco Foundation, and Deaf Child Worldwide.


The ACR GCD partners are open to a range of solutions, including existing technologies, new technologies, or combinations of both. The focus of the competition is on finding technologies that enable the creation of resources to improve access to, and education in, local sign language for children who are Deaf in low-resource settings.

Innovations should increase language and reading skills, be cost effective for developing country contexts, and have the potential for scale. ACR GCD recognizes that in some settings there is no documented sign language, and to create such resources, language documentation is necessary. As such, solutions that use technology for this crucial first step of documentation then linking sign language to literacy resources will also be considered for awards.


Following review, those selected to advance will be awarded seed funding to develop and pilot their innovation.

Phase 1: Written Proposal and Project Plan

  • The first phase requires a written description in English of the proposed innovation and project plan explaining the methods, resources, potential technology platform(s), personnel, existing partnerships (if any), evidence of collaboration with the local Deaf Community in product design and implementation, and preliminary schedule to implement the proposed innovation.
  • There is a pool of $125,000 USD to reward up to the five most promising innovations with $25,000 USD each.

Phase 2: Prototype Development of the Innovation

  • Phase 1 awardees will be given approximately three months to adapt their innovations for demonstration to the ACR GCD partners.
  • The demonstration will be conducted virtually through a video web conference. If this is not possible or sufficient, alternative avenues will be considered. The demonstration must show how the innovation will address potential technology challenges when used in a low-resource context.
  • Up to the top three prototypes will each receive an award of no less than $75,000 USD and will be advanced to Phase 3.

Phase 3: Prototype Refinement and Field Test Demonstration of the Innovation

  • The anticipated duration of Phase 3 is three months. Finalists will refine their winning Phase 2 prototype and field test their innovations in a low-resource setting. ACR GCD partners are committed to researching the impact upon language and literacy outcomes, thus studies will be conducted during the piloting of the prototype and followed more extensively upon the anticipated roll-out of the innovation.
  • The highest scoring innovation in this phase will be awarded no less than $75,000 USD and up to a maximum of $150,000 USD, unless no submission meets all of the criteria.


  • Entries are invited from interested innovators worldwide

Solution Requirements

  • The innovation must provide a novel, yet robust approach for the creation of sign language resources as a path to literacy. To facilitate early sign language acquisition, the innovation must allow for the development of learning resources, while promoting access to these newly-developed resources.
  • The innovation must be usable by children who are Deaf, their family members, educators and/or other community members who engage with children in learning. A clear plan for engaging families, teachers, the Deaf Community, and hearing community should be demonstrated. Strategies for engaging the medical community, in collaboration with the local Deaf Community, to ensure providers are both aware of and trained to educate parents on sign language resources are encouraged.
  • The innovation must be gender inclusive and responsive to the gender-differentiated needs of beneficiaries.
  • The innovation must be a technology-based innovation. This includes a broad range of information and communication technologies and video media. These can include: hardware, software, Internet and mobile applications among other platforms.
  • Innovations must:
    • Be low-cost and affordable for uptake
    • Function fully in low resource settings, specifically addressing:
      • Limited or intermittent electricity
      • Limited or intermittent internet access
      • Limited personnel for software/hardware support
  • Solvers must:
    • Be able to work with ACR GCD partners and other collaborative organizations (e.g. the national member, or Ordinary Member of WFD, if available) for prototype development in Phase 2 and implementation of the innovation in Phase 3
    • Provide a clear plan for sign language documentation that captures various sign language dialects or sign language-enabled learning resource creation and sustainability

Solvers may be required to provide additional information on their submission to the judging panel after the deadline.


  • Enter the competition here.
  • Please submit competition questions to [email protected].  Answers will be shared publicly here on a rolling basis, but no later than two weeks after submission. Questions will be accepted through January 31, 2018.

For questions related to this Competition, please email [email protected]

For more information, visit Sign On For Literacy Global Prize.