UCL Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre


Cochlear Implants and Sign Language: 

19 December 2013

Research Report Sign language and speech reading are thought to cause the deaf brain to reorganise in a way which makes cochlear implants (CI) ineffective, and clinicians often advise against using visual language with deaf children.

This is a problem as the visual modality is the only way in which deaf children (without CI or hearing aid) can access language. Researchers at DCAL have examined the evidence for this advice. Studies reporting links between sign language use and poor outcome with CI often confuse other factors such as age and how long a person has been deaf for with the effect of sign language. There is more convincing evidence that visual language experience improves CI outcome, and that the effects of early language deprivation are permanent and severe. Research, particularly with animals, has caused researchers and clinicians to think about CI outcome only in terms of auditory development. Here, we emphasize the role of language development in contributing to CI outcome.      



Rebecca Lyness  rebecca.lyness.10@ucl.ac.uk

Velia Cardin velia.cardin@ucl.ac.uk