ProToM; Promoting Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children’s Theory of Mind and Emotion Understanding


Background and aims

Hearing impairment can have a strong impact on children’s development of emotional and social-cognitive abilities. This holds especially for the development of Theory of Mind (ToM) and emotion knowledge (EK). This European cooperation project (Erasmus+, Movetia) aims to develop an evidence-based support instrument in several spoken and sign languages for children with hearing impairment. The instrument will be designed for use in various educational settings (Zentren für Hören und Sprache [schools for hearing and speech], inclusive classrooms). The instrument will support children age 6 to 12 years in ToM competencies and at the same time in language structures (vocabulary and syntax) that are needed for ToM competencies.


This research project is an Erasmus+ project, with cooperation partners in Germany, Greece, and Cyprus. A training programme in multiple languages and a practical tool chest with diverse information for teachers will be developed that can also be integrated in university courses. The project results will be utilized in a targeted manner for further professional groups (e.g. early education, social work, therapy) and also for parents.

Specific objectives:

  1. Development of an evidence-based, comprehensive support programme (9 modules, at least 4 different lessons/materials) designed for the different developmental prerequisites of children with hearing impairment, including their different languages (sign and/or spoken languages) and their different cultural backgrounds, and for use in different educational settings (Zentren für Hören und Sprache, mainstream school, partially inclusive).
  2. Low-threshold access to the support programme for various professional groups and extensive materials in various spoken and sign languages available at a website. With this, a practical tool chest is made available with a variety of information on ToM and EK (including information on available assessment tests and methods) and also for parent education. Also included will be video-based vocabulary lists and example sentences, with explanations in different sign languages.
  3. Sensitization / training of teachers with normal hearing and with hearing impairment at the practice partners for promoting ToM and EK in children with hearing impairment in different educational settings.
  4. Implementation of the innovative practice in the participating schools and transfer to special education and mainstream schools, kindergartens, early education settings, and counselling services across the countries and across Europe.
  5. Integration of the innovative practice in university teacher education at the participating universities and transfer to other higher education and continuing education institutions in Europe.

The programme for supporting ToM and EK in children with hearing impairment is being developed in an evidence-based and participatory way. Evidence-basing is achieved by means of data triangulation, in order to combine the advantages of quantitative methods (replicability) and qualitative methods (closeness to reality) and the perspectives of different participants (students, teachers).

  • Pre- and post-test design, to test the effectiveness of the intervention, using the ToM-Test and TEC-Test (Peterson et al., 2005; Pons et al., 2004) a sentence repetition test (Haug et al., 2015), and a vocabulary test (mental lexemes)
  • Evaluative (self-)observation by the teachers; feedback from the participating children
  • Focus group interviews at transnational meetings

Quantitative analysis of the pre- and post-test data will be performed as a group comparison (paired samples). Results of this kind are of interest to the scientific community.

Project Management
Dr. phil.
Senior Researcher
mireille.audeoud [at]
Project Team
Tamara Bangerter, BA
Ariane Gerber, Gebärdensprachpädagogin