DCAL Associated Projects

Current DCAL Associated Projects

The aim of this project is to develop cross-corpus annotation standards for sign language data, using the BSL Corpus in the UK and Corpus NGT  in the Netherlands, and to improve current software tools in working with sign language corpora, in collaboration with Dr. Onno Crasborn (Radboud University, Nijmegen).
Who to contact: Kearsy Cormier

This project is funded by a small grant from Deafness Research UK. It will create a range of cognitive tests for British Sign Language users that will help clinicians make more informed decisions that will improve the health of deaf people. It will for the first time, allow us to undertake detailed and accurate diagnosis of neurological conditions in deaf signers.

What it is about: This project is funded by the Alzheimer Society and focuses on three areas in partnership with University of Manchester, City University (London) and Royal Association of Deaf People: 1) Development of cognitive tests for identifying dementia in older Deaf signers, the experiences of deaf people with dementia and their carers, and awareness of dementia in the Deaf Community.

Who to contact for more information: Jo Atkinson

What is is about: 
This project is part of the broader Deaf with Dementia project. We are collecting information about normal memory and cognition in older deaf signers. The data is used to develop new cognitive tests to identify dementia in deaf BSL users, which can be used in clinical settings.

Who to contact for more information: Jo Atkinson

What it is about: 
This project investigates how deaf children communicate with their families. The collected data will help determine how deaf children develop and understanding of the social world around them. Results from this study will help to make intervention programmes be more effective.


Who to contact for more information: Gary Morgan

  • Sights and Signs project


What is is about: 
This is a cross-linguistic endeavor in collaboration with Linköping University (LiU), Sweden. It investigates the cognitive and neural representation of linguistic (sign language, SL) and non-linguistic (invented signs) processing in the visuo-spatial domain in native signers of Swedish and British Sign Language, and deaf and hearing non-signers.

Who to contact for more information: Velia Cardin


What is is about: 
Many deaf children have reading difficulties but there are no reading tests designed specifically for deaf children. This Nuffield Foundation-funded project aims to produce scores for deaf children in Year 6 on a number of deaf-friendly reading tests. As part of the same project, we are investigating dyslexia in deaf children which is currently difficult for teachers to spot.


Who to contact for more information: Ros Herman

What is it about: 
The goal of this project is to develop a vocabulary assessment for BSL that can be administered to school-age children through the internet and explore the feasibility of this format.


Who to contact for more information: Wolfgang Mann

  • The neurobiological basis of language: insights into late language acquisition and reading from deafness 


What it is about:
In this project we use different behavioural and neuroimaging methodologies to find out how the brain processes language. We do this by working with people who are born profoundly deaf and by looking at different aspects of their language skill such as BSL processing, speechreading and reading. In particular we are interested in the impact of age of language acquisition on how the brain processes language.


Who to contact for more information: Mairead MacSweeney


Past DCAL Associated Projects

This project is a corpus-based study of variation and change in the use of directional verbs in BSL, led by researchers at DCAL in collaboration with Dr. Adam Schembri (La Trobe University, Melbourne).

Who to contact: Kearsy Cormier, Jordan Fenlon

What it is about:
 This project investigates how deaf children between the ages of 3 and 11 years learn different aspects of phonology in sign language, such as hand shapes and movement to help us understand more about the nature of BSL and how it is acquired.


Who to contact for more information: Wolfgang Mann

  • Forensic Applications of Lipreading


What it is about: 
This Home Office funded project was run in collaboration with Deafworks, It explored the experiences of expert lipreaders engaged in forensic work, especially in transcribing silent videotapes for the content of spoken conversation. Two reports for public use were developed for use by potential clients. These are Guidance for organisations planning to use lipreading for information gathering and Lipreading for information gathering: a survey of scientific sources


Who to contact for more information: Bencie Woll

What it is about:
 This joint project with the University of Sussex investigates synaesthesia, a perceptual condition where people have extra perceptions such as colours for letters, or tastes for words, as it applies for Deaf and hearing signers. The particular type of synaesthesia the researchers are looking at is called Sign-to-Colour where people see colours when they sign or see others sign.  


Who to contact for more information: Joanna Atkinson

  • Translation and norming of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) into BSL 


What it is about: 
This study is developing a BSL version of the BDI for use in the clinical assessment of depression by professionals working in the field of deafness and mental health.


Who to contact for more information: Joanna Atkinson

What it is about:
 This project investigates the relationship between language and working memory in children who are deaf and acquiring British Sign Language as their native language, and in particular:
 (1) How much variation in BSL skills in typically developing deaf children can be accounted for by variation in phonological and visuo-spatial working memory skills? 
(2) Are working memory skills impaired in deaf children with atypical sign language development?
 (3) For both groups of children, what is the relationship between working memory abilities and the use of classifiers?


Who to contact for more information: Chloe Marshall

What it is about: 
This collaborative project has two main aims: 
(1) to create a collection (a "corpus") of video clips showing Deaf people using BSL that will be put on the internet and 
(2) to carry out research using this collection into BSL grammar and vocabulary, variation in BSL across the country and how BSL is changing.


Who to contact for more information: Kearsy Cormier, Adam Schembri

What it is about:
 The main aim of this project is to establish a new on-line curriculum for the teaching of British Sign Language (BSL) at HE level.


Who to contact for more information: Frances Elton

What it is about:
 This project looks at how deaf adults and children with various signing backgrounds use the space around them when signing BSL. Data are collected from deaf adult signers, and also longitudinal data are collected from deaf children at 3 stages over 5 years.


Who to contact for more information: Kearsy Cormier

What it is about:
 This project forms part of the 'Positive Support in the Lives of Deaf Children and their Families' project and involves developing a BSL assessment for children aged 8-36 months. The assessment is an adapted version of the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory (CDI), a standard tool used with spoken languages. The BSL-version of the CDI will be published in the next few months.


Who to contact for more information: Bencie Woll

What it is about:
 The main aim of our project is to learn more about what happens in the brain when people watch a person sign or speak.


Who to contact for more information: Mairead MacSweeney

What it is about: The aim of this project is to develop teaching and learning material for use both on-line and off-line by BSL learners at UCL.

Who to contact for more information: Frances Elton

What it is about: 
This project aims to capitalise on the current implementation of the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) to monitor key outcomes for deaf children in the first few years of life and their families and to relate these to the details of specific interventions. The key outcomes currently being monitored are language, communication, play and social behaviour and motor and physical development. In addition, the project aims to measure the type and extent of support and intervention, including family functioning, and to relate these to outcomes. From this we hope to be able to disseminate more robust information upon which parents may make informed choices and services may base their improvements in provision so that early development is likely to be optimal and the social exclusion of deaf children reduced.


Who to contact for more information: Bencie Woll

  • Sign and gesture (constructed action in signed languages) 


What it is about:
 We are investigating ways in which signers of different sign languages take advantage of constructed action (the signer's use of parts of his/her body to portray characteristics of a referent) to complement the linguistic part of a message. Data are from British, American, and Mexican Sign Languages.


Who to contact for more information: Kearsy Cormier

What it is about: 
This is a three-year ESRC-funded project which looks at how Deaf people process language when watching BSL signs. Learning a language is the result of many things working together, and we are interested in finding out whether this is the same for Deaf people as it is for hearing people. We are mainly interested in how signers understand where each sign starts and finishes during continuous signing.


Who to contact for more information: Gary Morgan; sign transition images


What is it on:
 The study will develop and pilot the first ever measure of Trait Emotional Intelligence designed to assess personal disposition in Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users.


Who to contact for more information: Christopher Stone