The Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre, based at University College London and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
DCAL brings together leading Deaf and hearing researchers in the fields of sign linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience. DCAL started its research in 2006 and is funded by the ESRC until December 2015.
It is the largest research centre in this field in Europe with nearly 40 staff and research students, about 1/3 of whom are Deaf.
The vast majority of research studies on language and thought are based on languages which are spoken and heard.
DCAL's research provides a unique perspective on language and thought based on Deaf people's communication.
DCAL places sign languages and Deaf people in the centre of the general understanding of how language and communication work within linguistics, psychology and child development.
Deafness is an important model for exploring questions in linguistics, cognitive sciences and in neuroscience, and this is now much more widely recognised (thanks in large part to DCAL's research efforts over the last five years).
Clinical developments in relation to hearing intervention, especially cochlear implantation, are also changing the experience of deafness and consequently our research programme.
The two overarching themes that drive our research are:
- How is communication shaped by deafness and the use of sign language?
- How does deafness and early language experience impact on cognitive functions beyond language?
For both themes our strategy is:
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- to consider the effects of deafness, delayed language development and sign language use across the life span by studying children, adolescents and adults including those with impaired signing;
- to investigate similarities and differences between groups of individuals (e.g., native signers and late learners) at both behavioural and neural levels. In our research the views of professional groups who work with d/Deaf individuals as well as organisations of and for the d/Deaf have been taken into account to ensure that this practical impact will continue.