Research Themes (2006-2010)

1. Normative Data and Assessment Tools for British Sign Language

The aim of this crossgroup theme was to collect normative data about BSL signs and to use these data to develop assessment tools for BSL. This helped us to create a thorough description of the vocabulary and grammar of BSL.


Leaders: Dr. Kearsy Cormier and Dr. Adam Schembri.

2. Language Development

In the developmental group we were concerned with language, cognition and the development of deaf children. The themes of DCAL: modality and experience are very important in contexts of the developing deaf child. For example how does sign language unfold in early and late sign learners? What are the effects of delayed language exposure on wider cognitive abilities? How do deaf children learn spoken and written language? How does the developing deaf brain process signed an spoken language. Our work aimed to feed into policy making and practice in the education and support of deaf children in the UK.


Leader: Professor Gary Morgan

3. Face-to-Face Communication

There were two projects in this theme. The first was developing a test of speechreading for Deaf children. Current tests of speechreading arent designed for Deaf people, but for people with spoken English as a first language. We developed an adult test of speechreading for Deaf people which is very sensitive to differences between people (Deaf people are better speechreaders than hearing on this test), and so is helpful in understanding how useful watching speech may be for any Deaf individual.


Leader: Professor Ruth Campbell (retired)

4. Atypical Language

For over 100 years, insights into the brain and its functions have come from the study of individuals with language and communication impairments. Here we applied this approach to the study of signers with language impairment, in order to explore (1) the relationship between impairments in the channels of production and perception and central processing of language; and (2) the relationship between impairments in non-linguistic cognitive functions and sign language function. 


Leader: Professor Bencie Woll

5. Language Processing

We were interested in how all of language, but especially signs are stored in your head, how they are accessed when you want to sign something and how you understand them when someone else signs to you. We cannot fully understand language processing until both signed and spoken languages are studied. 


Leader: Professor Gabriella Vigliocco

6. The Deaf Individual and the Community

This final theme was built on the work from the other themes. It extended the scope of DCAL to issues in the study of language use in the BSL signing community. There were two main areas within this theme: (1) unimodal and bimodal bilingualism in the BSL community and (2) the development of a sign language interpreter aptitude test. 


Leader: Dr Adam Schembri

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