Synaesthesia and Sign Language Project

Are you Deaf? Or are you a hearing person who can sign?
Do you see colours when you read printed letters or see signs such as fingerspelling or numbers?

If so, you may have synaesthesia..

The University of Sussex and the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London, UK are conducting research into synaesthesia, where people have extra perceptions such as colours for letters, or tastes for words. The type we are looking at is called Sign-to-Colour where people see colours when they sign or see others sign.

Even if you don't see colours from signs but are interested in finding out more please read on. We are looking for both Deaf and hearing signers of either BSL or ASL to take part in an online experiment into synaesthesia and sign language.

The researcher Tanya Lyons is a psychology student at the University of Sussex, UK conducting the project as her undergraduate dissertation research. Her findings will form a pilot for a larger scale project.

Would you like to participate in this online study?
We need both people who can see colours from signs and people who can’t see colours from signs to help with this research.

We need both Deaf and hearing signers of either BSL or ASL.

The experiment is online. You can select either BSL or ASL (or both if you know both). You will be shown film clips of individual fingerspelled letters and signed numbers.

For each signed letter or number, you will need to choose a colour from the chart. If you see colours naturally please select the nearest colour from the chart. If you don’t see colours naturally, choose a colour that first comes to mind.

Written English, BSL, ASL and pictorial instructions below:

For more information, go to:

1. Register & log in
2. Tick box to say you understand that the experiment is voluntary and that you can stop and withdraw at any time.
3. Find American Sign Language colour or British Sign Language colour on the synaesthesia list. Tick the one that you use.
4. The task will take about 15 minutes. Remember even if you don’t see colours naturally when you see signs, choose the first colour that comes to mind.
5. You can see your score at the end.
6. I will send you a link to a questionnaire via email. Please fill this in as soon as you can.

For ASL instructions, go to:

For BSL instructions, go to:

For visual pictorial instructions, go to:

Thank you for your time and help with this research.

Please contact Tanya Lyons, email:, with any questions.

If you would like to know more about synaesthesia and synaethesia research: