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 apply this approach to the study of signers with language impairment, in order to explore

  • the relationship between impairments in the channels of production and perception and central processing of language; and
  • the relationship between impairments in non-linguistic cognitive functions and sign language function.

Research on signers with Usher syndrome is a major area of activity. We have studied perception and production of sign language by blind and partially sighted signers, and perception and production of facial expression. In late 2009 we will be holding an international workshop, funded by the European Science Foundation.

The project on Deaf Children with Specific Language Impairment has received over 60 referrals from schools. We have tested 25 Deaf children from all over the country and have found patterns of language problems similar to those found in hearing children learning English.
Other studies of atypical signing include studies of signers with autism, signers with stroke and signers with dementia.

Leader: Professor Bencie Woll
Researchers: Dr. Joanna Atkinson, Tanya Denmark, Dr. Chloe Marshall, Kathryn Mason