UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Prof Bencie Woll

Prof Bencie Woll


49 Gordon Square


  • Chair of Sign Language and Deaf Studies
    Experimental Psychology
    Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences

Joined UCL


My research and teaching interests embrace a wide range of topics related to sign language.

These include the linguistics of British Sign Language (BSL) and other sign languages, the history and sociolinguistics of BSL and the Deaf community, the development of BSL in young children, sign language, deafness and the brain, and developmental and acquired sign language impairments. I established and now direct the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre, with core funding of 9,500,000 from the ESRC over ten years, from 2006-2015. This is the largest research centre in this field in Europe, with 3 co-directors, and over 30 staff, research students, and associates, working in several main research themes:  Sign Language documentation and Sign Language change; Foundations of Communication, Hemispheric organisation of language processing; Iconicity as a link between language and cognition; Cognitive Control: executive functions; the nature of internal representations for sign and gesture.

Award year Qualification Institution
/ BA
Bachelor of Arts
University of Pennsylvania
/ MA
Master of Arts
University of Essex
/ PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
University of Bristol

I am a linguist by training and came to UCL in August 2005 from my previous post at City University London, where I held a Chair in Sign Language and Deaf Studies, the first in this field in the UK. Before coming to London, I was at Bristol, where I first worked on language acquisition and then was a co-founder of the Centre for Deaf Studies, pioneering research on the linguistics of BSL and on Deaf Studies. I was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2012.


Acquired disorders of language|*|Aphasia|*|Behavioural analysis|*|Brain|*|Brain imaging|*|Cognition|*|Deafness|*|Development|*|Functional MRI (fMRI)|*|Language|*|Neuroimaging|*|Neuropsychological testing|*|Neuropsychology|*|Neuroscience|*|acquired sign language impairments|*|dementia|*|developmental sign language impairments|*|neuroscience of sign language|*|psycholinguistics of sign language|*|sign language|*|sociolinguistics of sign language