Research Specialist for Sign Language Dictionary

Before You Apply

Peace Corps Response positions are open to returned Volunteers or U.S. citizens with significant professional and technical experience.

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Project Description

Two Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRVs) are needed to serve as Research Specialists for Sign Language Dictionary for the University of Eswatini in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The Department of African Languages and Literature in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Eswatini has a goal to establish a unit for the teaching and research of ESwatini Sign Language and linguistics as part of its long term Strategic Plan. As a first step the Department is currently compiling a dictionary of ESwatini Sign Language. The research for this dictionary is based on surveys of signs in all four regions of ESwatini. The University of Eswatini wants to provide information on which signs are used throughout the four regions, which signs vary among the regions, and the differences between village sign and school sign. So far, approximately 1500 signs have been collected and are ready to begin the process of creating sample entries for the dictionary, which will be approved by stakeholders before inclusion. Once completed, the dictionary will be part of ongoing progress in research into the grammar and vocabulary of ESwatini Sign Language. The gap that we have identified is a lack of advanced expertise in Sign Language and Lexicography.

The Research Specialists, with at least an undergraduate degree in sign language or deaf education studies and 5 years’ experience in linguistic projects, are needed to assist in the preparation of the final submission draft of the Eswatini Sign Language Dictionary. The PCRVs will work with staff in the preparation of the final submission draft of the dictionary, and make recommendations about organization, presentation and content of the dictionary. The Volunteers will also collaborate with the principal researcher and counterparts in planning and conducting stakeholder lemmatization meetings, prepare sign samples for stakeholder lemmatization meetings, and evaluate significance of variation in signing among the four regions of Eswatini. The goal of this assignment is to build local capacity to complete a full Eswatini Sign Language Dictionary.

Please note that departure dates and other details of this project could change because of the uncertainties as Peace Corps and local partners resume volunteer operations. Candidates selected for this position will be arriving in eSwatini together as a group, so while the departure dates for the whole group could change, dates cannot be changed for individual candidates.

Partner Information

University of Eswatini Eswatini

Required Skills

• High tolerance for ambiguity and high level of flexibility – some details of this project could change because of the uncertainties as Peace Corps and local partners resume volunteer operations
• Bachelor’s Degree in Sign Language Studies or Deaf Education Studies
• At least 5 years’ professional experience in linguistics
• Strong facilitation and training background
• Knowledge of Deaf culture and Sign Language
• Openness and willingness to learn Swazi Sign Language

The Peace Corps embraces and leverages the diversity of its volunteers as a reflection of America's diversity. Peace Corps Response is committed to reflecting the diversity of the United States in the professionals we send into the field to support the mission of world peace and friendship. Applicants with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.


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