2. Language Development

In the developmental group we are 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 aims to feed into policy making and practice in the education and support of deaf children in the UK. The main projects funded by DCAL under this strand include a study which investigates how deaf children communicate with their families, and how they develop an understanding of the social world around them. For this project, lead by Professor Gary Morgan, DCAL is working with NDCS, Deaf parents UK, schools and service providers to deaf children. The project is linked to similar studies across Europe focusing on early communication and cognitive development.
Another project funded by DCAL is the recently completed study on deaf children’s development of phonological skills in BSL as a part of which we developed the Nonsense Sign Repetition Test (NSRT). A trial version of this test has been made available to participating schools and we are currently waiting for feedback.

There are a number of ongoing studies which take place in collaboration with DCAL; these include the development of a web-based vocabulary test for BSL, a project on exploring appropriate ways of identifying deaf children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), which means that they have difficulty learning language at the same rate as their peers (see SLI project), and a project which investigates the relationship between language and working memory in deaf children with BSL as their native language.

Leader: Prof. Gary Morgan
Researchers: Dr. Wolfgang Mann, Dr. Chloe Marshall, Kathryn Mason, Kate Rowley, Zoe Haws, Tanya Denmark, Gerado OrtegaDr. Kearsy CromierProf. Bencie WollDr. Merle MahonDr. Mairead MacSweeneyDr. Joanna AtkinsonDr. Ros Herman, Dr. Fiona Kyle
Interns: Neil Fox, Harriet Bowden