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Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre

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Get involved in DCAL's research!

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Inspired by DCAL’s work? Would you like to get involved in our research projects into sign linguistics, psychology and neuroscience, and help in a practical way?

Sharing Research - Iconicity and Embodiment on Tour

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gabriella vigliocco presenting

In the press, at the podium

DCAL Co-Director Professor Gabriella Vigliocco, who is also Professor of the Psychology of Language in the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences at University College London, and Director of the Language and Cognition Laboratory at University College London, has been able to take her research work on iconicity and embodiment in language to a wide range of audiences over several months - to international academic audiences at a number of conferences and to the wider community via contributing to a fascinating article in New Scientist magazine published in August 2011 by David Robson, Biology Features Editor. The idea for the article came about after he read the paper by Pamela Perniss, Robin Thompson and Gabriella Vigliocco, published in Frontiers in Psychology (2010) discussing iconicity in signed and spoken languages.

DCAL working with the Cognitive Disorders Clinic

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Do you know a Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user who has developed memory or thinking problems?
Appointments are now being offered for Deaf patients at a top UK neurology hospital.

Update on Deaf with Dementia Project

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Deaf with Dementia Project Logo
Deaf with Dementia Project Logo
Deaf with Dementia Project photo
 

DCAL's Tales from the Road

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DCAL Roadshow

DCAL and the community

Regular readers of the DCAL newsletter will have read that DCAL was to take a Roadshow to six UK cities during 2011. The Roadshow was a chance for DCAL staff to meet with members of the Deaf Community and discuss DCAL’s research together. Some readers may be amongst the hundreds who attended the events. Now with the last leg of the tour having been Belfast in September 2011, there’s been time for the DCAL team to reflect back on the significance of the tour and how it all went.

Funding for the Roadshow was obtained from the University College London (UCL) Beacons for Public Engagement programme. These awards are given for innovative projects that seek to engage with audiences that the university does not traditionally talk or listen to, or those who are socially excluded.

DCAL postgraduate researcher and member of the Roadshow team, Robert Adam, explains more: “Deaf people do not know as much about their sign language as hearing people know about their spoken language. This is because it is not studied as a language in schools. So Deaf people do not always understand the nature of their language and how being Deaf can influence their experience. Similarly Deaf people do not have equal access to society because not everyone can sign and interpreters are not readily available. This affects peoples’ everyday experience and it also affects access to information that can be really important to them. Critically, in the past, research on Deaf people and sign language has often not been accessible for Deaf people. DCAL believes that it’s an important part of our role to disseminate research findings in BSL to the Deaf Community.”

With the £12,000 funding award DCAL staff were able to travel to Birmingham in March, Glasgow in April, Newcastle and Manchester in May, Bristol in July and finally Belfast.

At each Roadshow, held in Deaf centres, three to four DCAL researchers spoke about their work on different topics. These included language acquisition, the Deaf brain, Deaf interpreters, Deaf people and autism, Deaf people and dementia, the sign segmentation project and the British Sign Language (BSL) Corpus project.

Deaf people who attended the events came via a variety of networks. Other participants included those who work with the Deaf Community such as interpreters and social workers. With a good number of attendees at each event it demonstrated to DCAL that people are really keen to learn about the Centre’s work. Most of the feedback was positive, with Deaf visitors saying they enjoyed the days, that the research projects were interesting and well-explained and how good it was to have access to the research that is being carried out by DCAL at first hand. People also came forward with useful suggestions about future DCAL research.

For further details, visit the DCAL website: www.dcal.ucl.ac.uk. More public engagement pages are being added over time and all the presentations from the DCAL Deaf Open Day and DCAL Roadshows will eventually be available. It is hoped that DCAL’s website will become a really useful resource for Deaf people to continue to learn about, and get involved in, DCAL’s research.

BSL Corpus Project goes online

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BSL Corpus Project photo

Unique BSL resource becomes available to all online

An important development has been made in a project that will be familiar to many DCAL newsletter readers from updates over the last few years: DCAL is pleased to announce that data from the British Sign Language Corpus Project (BSLCP) can now be accessed by all, having gone live on-line at the end of 2011. 

Talking about Bilingualism

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bilingualism story 2 newsletter

Across the world most children born today will grow up in bilingual or multi-lingual environments. These children will use two or more languages regularly. One language might be for home, and another for school; or parents might have different linguistic backgrounds. In London and other major cities classrooms are increasingly multilingual. The internet and TV also offer the opportunity for children to learn and absorb new languages. In the past it was thought that early exposure to two languages was confusing for children. But newer research tells us this is not so, and that there are clear cognitive and educational advantages to being bilingual, such as more being able to divide attention between different tasks or understanding the communicative intent of a speaker.

Are you interested in postgraduate study at DCAL?

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CISLDC conference breaktime

DCAL is an outstanding place for postgraduate studies in deafness, cognition and language. All students are integrated into the DCAL community in a personal and academic capacity, and in a practical capacity.

In addition to supervision from one or more DCAL staff, students benefit from seminars and centre meetings, and have full access to DCAL resources such as the specialist DCAL library, laboratories, studio space and video editing suite.

There is a research student room on the 4th floor in DCAL itself. Some students also have workspace elsewhere in University College London (UCL), depending on where their supervisor is based. But students are also always on the move, attending meetings and training courses, not only within DCAL but also around UCL. They travel regularly outside of London for conferences and meetings, and often travel to collect data for their research projects.

Applications are invited for students wishing to study for an MPhil/PhD degree at DCAL. This includes students who have an undergraduate degree (UK 2:1 or better, or top 40% in the class) and who have research interests that fit in with DCAL staff expertise and interests. Inquiries and applications from deaf students are particularly welcome.

Current DCAL Newsletter available in BSL

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Newsletter Issue 10: Welcome Message

Wishing all readers a good 2012!


Dear friends,
We hope this Winter 2011/New Year 2012 issue of the DCAL newsletter will greet you soon after you return to work from a peaceful Christmas and New Year break.

The newsletter reviews just some of the activities that the DCAL team has been engaged in these last six months since the DCAL summer newsletter. 

All of us here at DCAL can look back on 2011 as a busy and productive time – the first year since the Centre’s work was recognised by receive funding from the Economic and Social Research Fund (ESRC) for a further 5 years’ research and public engagement work. This last year saw us set off on “DCAL II”. We look forward to continuing this journey into 2012, and once more to a year of fruitful and inspiring collaboration with many newsletter readers – academic colleagues, practitioners, press, policy makers and community members.

We hope this issue will make interesting reading for you. If you would like to read about any of the research in more detail please go to DCAL’s website or if you have comments or questions please email us.

With all good wishes for the New Year 2012,

DCAL directors – Professor Bencie Woll, Professor Gabriella Vigliocco, Professor Gary Morgan, Dr Mairead MacSweeney

Special Focus: What is it like to be a postgraduate at DCAL?

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Tanya Denmark - postgraduate student

Building research capacity for the future

The ESRC Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) includes within its mission, and its core values, a commitment to developing expertise in deafness, language and cognition among postgraduate research students. And this commitment is clear from DCAL’s postgraduate research record.

Since its foundation in 2006, DCAL staff have supervised 15 postgraduate students in the area of deafness, cognition and language. As of 2011 six of these have already earned their PhDs and another six currently working towards their doctorate are expecting to complete during 2012. DCAL is very proud of these success stories, and would be glad to welcome more students. It is important to the centre to help build capacity in the widest field of its research remit, and DCAL is especially keen to welcome junior deaf academics who will be key in developing the future research agenda.

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