News

Digging into Signs

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Ten international research funders from four countries jointly have announced the winners of the third Digging into Data Challenge, a competition to develop new insights, tools and skills in innovative humanities and social science research using large-scale data analysis.

Fourteen teams representing Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States will receive grants to investigate how computational techniques can be applied to “big data”; changing the nature of humanities and social sciences research. Each team represents collaborations among scholars, scientists, and information professionals from leading universities and libraries in Europe and North America.

One of these teams is a collaboration between DCAL's Kearsy Cormier and Onno Crasborn (Radboud University, Nijmegen) to develop annotation standards for sign language corpora, using the British Sign Language Corpus and the Corpus NGT (i.e. a corpus of Sign Language of the Netherlands).

Click here for more information about the Digging into Data scheme, including a description of the "Digging into Signs" project.

Cochlear Implants and Sign Language: 

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Research Report

Sign language and speech reading are thought to cause the deaf brain to reorganise in a way which makes cochlear implants (CI) ineffective, and clinicians often advise against using visual language with deaf children. This is a problem as the visual modality is the only way in which deaf children (without CI or hearing aid) can access language. Researchers at DCAL have examined the evidence for this advice. Studies reporting links between sign language use and poor outcome with CI often confuse other factors such as age and how long a person has been deaf for with the effect of sign language. There is more convincing evidence that visual language experience improves CI outcome, and that the effects of early language deprivation are permanent and severe. Research, particularly with animals, has caused researchers and clinicians to think about CI outcome only in terms of auditory development. Here, we emphasize the role of language development in contributing to CI outcome.      

Media Release

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Start: Dec 12, 2001 1:45:00 PM

‘Fake’ Mandela interpreter claims schizophrenic episode

The Mandela memorial interpreter accused of being a 'fake' has claimed that he suffered a schizophrenic episode while on stage, and that he suddenly lost concentration and started hearing voices and hallucinating.

Media Release

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Start: Dec 12, 2013 9:00:00 AM

Making Dementia Friendly Neighbourhoods

A European team of experts led by The University of Manchester will explore, investigate and evaluate the role of the neighbourhood in the everyday lives of people with dementia and their families in a new research project announced during the G8 dementia summit today (11 December).

Media Release

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Start: Dec 11, 2013 5:00:00 PM

Interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial

Bencie Woll, Director of DCAL has commented on claims that the interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral was signing in Zulu.

History of BSL Online

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Start: Dec 2, 2013 9:00:00 AM

Following the successful summer exhibition of the History of British Sign Language, the material displayed has now been compiled and captured in a unique online catalogue.

Frances Elton's Retirement Seminar

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On the 8th November DCAL would like to invite you to an evening seminar in honour of Frances Elton MA who retired in August 2013 after many years working as a sign language researcher at the University of Durham, City University and University College London.

New Dates for Sign Linguistics Course for Deaf Professionals

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Due to a popular demand we are offering another series of our Sign Linguistics Course for Deaf Professionals. This course is suitable for Deaf people who are teaching and studying BSL, assessors and others who are working in the Deaf community in areas such as mental health and other Deaf related jobs. This course will be taught in BSL throughout and the fees have not increased for three years.

DCAL features on See Hear with clip of BSL from 1920s

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DCAL briefing on the need for specialist national neurology services for deaf people

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DCAL Newsletter 12 available

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DCAL Newsletter 11 available in BSL

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'What do you think the girl wants from Father Christmas?' Theory of Mind research with deaf infants

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DCAL Deputy Director, Professor Gary Morgan, and other colleagues from DCAL and City University London have been working with researchers from the University of Sheffield, University of Trento and University of Gothenburg, on a joint project investigating early interaction involving British and Swedish hearing parents and their deaf and hearing 2-3 year old children. This research is the first to show that conversational input about mental states directed towards very young deaf children differs significantly in those areas of interaction thought to be crucial for Theory of Mind (ToM) development. ToM is the reasoning that enables us to reflect on the mental states of others. Importantly it contributes to sophisticated forms of human interaction and provides a basis for understanding others’ actions and dispositions.

Read my lips - Advances in speechreading research with deaf children

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Speechreading is the term used by researchers to refer to lipreading. ‘Speechreading’ is preferred to ‘lipreading’ because lots of information is used from all of the face, not just the lips, when you watch someone speak. For deaf people, this can be their primary route to speech information. Hearing people also make great use of visual speech, although they often don’t realize it. If you think of talking to someone in a noisy bar, a hearing person is much more likely to understand a person if they can be seen. This is where the old joke ‘I can’t hear you without my glasses on’ comes from.

Early sign language exposure benefits deaf children

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According to new research, acquiring sign language from an early age in addition to spoken or written language has significant benefits for deaf children.

Deaf Children and Development

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A considerable amount of DCAL’s work focuses on research that is improving outcomes for deaf children. DCAL explores how deaf children acquire and use language, as well as how their brains develop. Using this information DCAL can help the parents of deaf children and people who work with deaf children develop tools and strategies to ensure that the children get the best start in life. On the following pages you can read more about some of DCAL’s current research relating to deaf children and development.

DCAL research on voice hallucinations features in the Lancet

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DCAL’s Dr. Joanna Atkinson’s research into voice hallucinations in deaf people with psychosis was highlighted in a Lancet editorial published on 12 March 2012. The editorial was a commentary on a wider review by the journal on the mental health of deaf people. For more information on the research go to: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dcal/research/research-projects/schizophrenia

DCAL's advocacy work with UK politicians

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stephen-lloyd
     

Ground breaking deaf MEP visits DCAL

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ESRC Future Leader Fellowships for DCAL researchers

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Two DCAL associates, Dr David Vinson (UCL Cognitive Perceptual & Brain Sciences) and Dr Evelyne Mercure (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) have been awarded Future Leader Fellowships by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) from a total of 54 awards made nationally. The scheme aims to support early career social scientists by funding research projects, and providing researchers with an opportunity to develop the skills and experience they need to become leaders in their field.

DCAL director receives prestigious award

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DCAL Director Bencie Woll is amongst 38 new academics elected to Fellowships of the British Academy at their 19 July 2012 Annual General Meeting. The British Academy is the equivalent of the Royal Society, but for research in the humanities and social sciences. Bencie’s election is a significant achievement, being the first researcher in the field of Deaf Studies to receive this honour.

British Deaf Association honours DCAL researcher

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frances-award
     

DCAL Nominated for the Signature Organisation of the Year Award

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Staff from DCAL have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to deaf communication with a nomination for the 2012 Signature Award for the Organisation of the Year.

DCAL and AoHL call for the National Dementia Strategy for England to be reviewed to ensure that funding is provided to meet the needs of people who are deaf or have hearing loss and also have dementia

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Joining Up

DCAL and AoHL publish joint report and call for the National Dementia Strategy for England to be reviewed to ensure that funding is provided to meet the needs of people who are deaf or have hearing loss and also have dementia

BSL Grammaticality Judgement paper ranked in Top 25 Hottest Articles

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Cormier, Schembri, Vinson & Orfanidou (2012) is ranked number 5 in ScienceDirect's list of Top 25 Hottest Articles for the journal Cognition, and number 25 for all Elsevier journals within the Arts and Humanities, based on downloads between October and December 2012.

New MSc in Language Sciences with specialisation in Sign Language Studies NOW RECRUITING for2013/2014

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Professor Adam Kendon to become Honorary Emeritus Professor and DCAL Associate

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Neuroscience: How the brain adapts to deafness

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Programme for TISLR 2013 available on the webpage NOW!

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NDCS offering free two-day training courses to utilise Family Sign Language Toolkit

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Researchers in Language and Cognition present their work at a conference in Lisbon

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New MSc in Language Sciences with specialisation in Sign Language Studies: NOW RECRUITING for 2013/2014

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Robert Adam is the first person in the UK to be both a registered Interpreter and a registered Translator on the NRCPD

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The Guardian publishes correction about BSL Corpus Project story

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After months of correspondence between DCAL and editors at The Guardian, the newspaper has finally published a correction about the story from 8 October 2012 about politically correct signs in BSL that was misleading in its implied connections with the BSL Corpus Project.

Society Now features an article by researcher Dr Joanna Atkinson 'Voices inside my head'

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The Autumn 2012 issue of Society Now, an ERSC publication highlighting Research Making an Impact, features an article by DCAL researcher Dr Joanna Atkinson about voice hallucinations in deaf people, "Voices inside my head".

The Association for Physiological Sciences publishes DCAL research in Psychological Science

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Date: 14th November, 2012

The road to language learning is iconic

New leaflet about research targeted at the older deaf community

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DCAL responds to Harry Knoors weblog

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In June 2012, Harry Knoors (Professor in Deaf Education, Radboud University Nijmegen) blogged about research recently published by DCAL on age of acquisition effects in BSL. The original blog was in Dutch; an English translation is below.

New DCAL-associated research project - Describing sociolinguistic variation in verb directionality in British Sign Language: A corpus-based study, funded by ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative

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See Hear item on Deaf with dementia

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Watch the item on iplayer:

DCAL Newsletter October 2012 now available!

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DCAL's Response to Guardian article "Signs of the times: Deaf community minds its language"

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Response to the following article published by The Guardian on October 8th 2012:

Outreach activity at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children

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Frank Barnes School logo

One-day Halloween Workshop at

Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children

See Hear Feature Deaf with Dementia Project October 17th

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  •  See Hear will be featuring item on Deaf with Dementia Project on October 17th

Early sign language exposure benefits deaf children

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According to new research, acquiring sign language from an early age in addition to spoken or written language has significant benefits for deaf children.

New DCAL Briefing Sheet available on Dementia

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Frances Elton gets BDA award in recognition of her contribution to BSL and Sign Linguistics teaching

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frances-award

BSL Teacher Award from BDA

BSL Corpus Project featured on The Hub

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DCAL research features in Lancet editorial

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Dr. Joanna Atkinson’s research into voice hallucinations in deaf people with psychosis was highlighted in an editorial  of the Lancet published on 12 March 2012. The editorial was a commentary on a wider review by the journal on the mental health of deaf people.

The editorial focused on issues relating to the need to provide flexible and responsive services to deaf people. Dr. Joanna Atkinson’s research was used as an example to show how the appropriate diagnosis of schizophrenia amongst deaf sign language users can be improved through clinicians taking account of the latest academic work . The editorial also cited the consequences of often poor communication between deaf patients and health professionals.   

For more information Dr. Joanna Atkinson’s research please visit the following webpage.

Get involved in DCAL's research!

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Inspired by DCAL’s work? Would you like to get involved in our research projects into sign linguistics, psychology and neuroscience, and help in a practical way?

Sharing Research - Iconicity and Embodiment on Tour

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gabriella vigliocco presenting

In the press, at the podium

DCAL Co-Director Professor Gabriella Vigliocco, who is also Professor of the Psychology of Language in the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences at University College London, and Director of the Language and Cognition Laboratory at University College London, has been able to take her research work on iconicity and embodiment in language to a wide range of audiences over several months - to international academic audiences at a number of conferences and to the wider community via contributing to a fascinating article in New Scientist magazine published in August 2011 by David Robson, Biology Features Editor. The idea for the article came about after he read the paper by Pamela Perniss, Robin Thompson and Gabriella Vigliocco, published in Frontiers in Psychology (2010) discussing iconicity in signed and spoken languages.

DCAL working with the Cognitive Disorders Clinic

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Do you know a Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user who has developed memory or thinking problems?
Appointments are now being offered for Deaf patients at a top UK neurology hospital.

Update on Deaf with Dementia Project

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Deaf with Dementia Project Logo
Deaf with Dementia Project Logo
Deaf with Dementia Project photo
 

DCAL's Tales from the Road

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DCAL Roadshow

DCAL and the community

Regular readers of the DCAL newsletter will have read that DCAL was to take a Roadshow to six UK cities during 2011. The Roadshow was a chance for DCAL staff to meet with members of the Deaf Community and discuss DCAL’s research together. Some readers may be amongst the hundreds who attended the events. Now with the last leg of the tour having been Belfast in September 2011, there’s been time for the DCAL team to reflect back on the significance of the tour and how it all went.

Funding for the Roadshow was obtained from the University College London (UCL) Beacons for Public Engagement programme. These awards are given for innovative projects that seek to engage with audiences that the university does not traditionally talk or listen to, or those who are socially excluded.

DCAL postgraduate researcher and member of the Roadshow team, Robert Adam, explains more: “Deaf people do not know as much about their sign language as hearing people know about their spoken language. This is because it is not studied as a language in schools. So Deaf people do not always understand the nature of their language and how being Deaf can influence their experience. Similarly Deaf people do not have equal access to society because not everyone can sign and interpreters are not readily available. This affects peoples’ everyday experience and it also affects access to information that can be really important to them. Critically, in the past, research on Deaf people and sign language has often not been accessible for Deaf people. DCAL believes that it’s an important part of our role to disseminate research findings in BSL to the Deaf Community.”

With the £12,000 funding award DCAL staff were able to travel to Birmingham in March, Glasgow in April, Newcastle and Manchester in May, Bristol in July and finally Belfast.

At each Roadshow, held in Deaf centres, three to four DCAL researchers spoke about their work on different topics. These included language acquisition, the Deaf brain, Deaf interpreters, Deaf people and autism, Deaf people and dementia, the sign segmentation project and the British Sign Language (BSL) Corpus project.

Deaf people who attended the events came via a variety of networks. Other participants included those who work with the Deaf Community such as interpreters and social workers. With a good number of attendees at each event it demonstrated to DCAL that people are really keen to learn about the Centre’s work. Most of the feedback was positive, with Deaf visitors saying they enjoyed the days, that the research projects were interesting and well-explained and how good it was to have access to the research that is being carried out by DCAL at first hand. People also came forward with useful suggestions about future DCAL research.

For further details, visit the DCAL website: www.dcal.ucl.ac.uk. More public engagement pages are being added over time and all the presentations from the DCAL Deaf Open Day and DCAL Roadshows will eventually be available. It is hoped that DCAL’s website will become a really useful resource for Deaf people to continue to learn about, and get involved in, DCAL’s research.

BSL Corpus Project goes online

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BSL Corpus Project photo

Unique BSL resource becomes available to all online

An important development has been made in a project that will be familiar to many DCAL newsletter readers from updates over the last few years: DCAL is pleased to announce that data from the British Sign Language Corpus Project (BSLCP) can now be accessed by all, having gone live on-line at the end of 2011. 

Talking about Bilingualism

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bilingualism story 2 newsletter

Across the world most children born today will grow up in bilingual or multi-lingual environments. These children will use two or more languages regularly. One language might be for home, and another for school; or parents might have different linguistic backgrounds. In London and other major cities classrooms are increasingly multilingual. The internet and TV also offer the opportunity for children to learn and absorb new languages. In the past it was thought that early exposure to two languages was confusing for children. But newer research tells us this is not so, and that there are clear cognitive and educational advantages to being bilingual, such as more being able to divide attention between different tasks or understanding the communicative intent of a speaker.

Are you interested in postgraduate study at DCAL?

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CISLDC conference breaktime

DCAL is an outstanding place for postgraduate studies in deafness, cognition and language. All students are integrated into the DCAL community in a personal and academic capacity, and in a practical capacity.

In addition to supervision from one or more DCAL staff, students benefit from seminars and centre meetings, and have full access to DCAL resources such as the specialist DCAL library, laboratories, studio space and video editing suite.

There is a research student room on the 4th floor in DCAL itself. Some students also have workspace elsewhere in University College London (UCL), depending on where their supervisor is based. But students are also always on the move, attending meetings and training courses, not only within DCAL but also around UCL. They travel regularly outside of London for conferences and meetings, and often travel to collect data for their research projects.

Applications are invited for students wishing to study for an MPhil/PhD degree at DCAL. This includes students who have an undergraduate degree (UK 2:1 or better, or top 40% in the class) and who have research interests that fit in with DCAL staff expertise and interests. Inquiries and applications from deaf students are particularly welcome.

Current DCAL Newsletter available in BSL

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Newsletter Issue 10: Welcome Message

Wishing all readers a good 2012!


Dear friends,
We hope this Winter 2011/New Year 2012 issue of the DCAL newsletter will greet you soon after you return to work from a peaceful Christmas and New Year break.

The newsletter reviews just some of the activities that the DCAL team has been engaged in these last six months since the DCAL summer newsletter. 

All of us here at DCAL can look back on 2011 as a busy and productive time – the first year since the Centre’s work was recognised by receive funding from the Economic and Social Research Fund (ESRC) for a further 5 years’ research and public engagement work. This last year saw us set off on “DCAL II”. We look forward to continuing this journey into 2012, and once more to a year of fruitful and inspiring collaboration with many newsletter readers – academic colleagues, practitioners, press, policy makers and community members.

We hope this issue will make interesting reading for you. If you would like to read about any of the research in more detail please go to DCAL’s website or if you have comments or questions please email us.

With all good wishes for the New Year 2012,

DCAL directors – Professor Bencie Woll, Professor Gabriella Vigliocco, Professor Gary Morgan, Dr Mairead MacSweeney

Special Focus: What is it like to be a postgraduate at DCAL?

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Tanya Denmark - postgraduate student

Building research capacity for the future

The ESRC Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) includes within its mission, and its core values, a commitment to developing expertise in deafness, language and cognition among postgraduate research students. And this commitment is clear from DCAL’s postgraduate research record.

Since its foundation in 2006, DCAL staff have supervised 15 postgraduate students in the area of deafness, cognition and language. As of 2011 six of these have already earned their PhDs and another six currently working towards their doctorate are expecting to complete during 2012. DCAL is very proud of these success stories, and would be glad to welcome more students. It is important to the centre to help build capacity in the widest field of its research remit, and DCAL is especially keen to welcome junior deaf academics who will be key in developing the future research agenda.

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