The vast majority of research studies on language and cognition are based on languages which are spoken and heard. DCAL's research provides a unique perspective on language and thought by placing sign languages and Deaf people in the centre of our understanding of language and communication.

DCAL’s research since 2006 has contributed substantially to the recognition that deafness is an important model for exploring questions in linguistics, cognitive sciences and neuroscience.

Two overarching themes drive our research:

  • 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 we 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, comparing them to non-signers, both hearing and deaf, at  behavioural and neural levels.

DCAL is the largest research centre in this field in Europe with nearly 30 staff and research students, about one third of whom are deaf. We are committed to knowledge exchange relating to our research agenda from professional groups who work with d/Deaf individuals and organisations of and for the d/Deaf.