DCAL – What Do They Do?

DCAL stands for Deafness Cognition and Language. They have a research centre based at University College London and are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). DCAL seeks to bring together leading Deaf and hearing researchers in the fields of sign linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience. DCAL started its research in 2006.  It was 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.

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 neuroscience, which is now much more widely recognised (thanks largely 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, their research programme.

The two overarching themes that drive their research are:

  • How is communication shaped by deafness and the use of Sign Language?
  • How do deafness and early language experience impact cognitive functions beyond language?

For both themes, their strategy is:

  • 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 their research, the views of professional groups who work with d/Deaf individuals as well as organisations of and for d/Deaf people have been taken into account to ensure that this practical impact will continue.

DCAL received an award back in February for the most significant research contribution to Deaf studies at the Royal Association of the Deaf (RAD)’s 175th Birthday Honours Awards Ceremony.

Logo The event paid great tribute to the foresight, determination and hard work of the many past, present and future Deaf pioneers. 

Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

DCAL have a number of CPD programmes for people learning British Sign Language (BSL) & for Deaf people alike:

– BSL Linguistics
– Deafhood
– Language and cognitive development of deaf children
– Deaf Awareness
– Introduction to multimedia training using ELAN
– The Deaf Brain
– CPD for BSL Teachers
– Introduction to Notetaking
– Electronic Notetaking OCN Accredited


 summary of some of these events is as followed:


The programme will have the following structure:

1. Introduction to Deafhood

2. Deaf History and Colonisation

3. Deaf Cultures as Minority Cultures

4. Effects of Colonisation on Deaf Cultures

5. How Deaf Cultures can be strengthened by Deafhood.

This course will be taught in BSL.

The Deaf Brain

This is an introductory course aimed at those without previous knowledge of neuroscience. Concepts with be introduced from basic levels and the student will be progressively guided from simple to more complex ideas.

You will be introduced to basic concepts about brain function, how these are influenced by deafness and language acquisition through vision (i.e. Sign Language and lip-reading).

They will present their state-of-the-art results from original research from DCAL and other international research groups with particular emphasis on the following:

– Early deafness
– Sign language processing in deaf and hearing signers
– The effects of bimodal bilingualism
– Age of language acquisition
– Long-term consequences of delayed language exposure
– Cognitive skills
– Implications for cochlear implants

They will also provide an overview of state-of-the-art research methods and neuroimaging techniques used to investigate cognitive functions in the deaf population.

New dates for a number of these courses are yet to be confirmed; if you are interested in these courses, please contact dcalcourse@ucl.ac.uk

To check out our post all about Deafhood – CLICK HERE

If you have found this information interesting and are eager to learn more about DCAL, visit their website here >> http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dcal

Follow them on Twitter – @DCAL_UCL

Like them on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DCAL-Deafness-Cognition-and-Language-Research-Centre-136511306447860/