Hearing is not all down to your ears

18 March 2010

A fascinating event looking at sign language research is to be held at University College London on 20 March as part of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Festival of Social Science (21-21 March). The vast majority of research studies on language and thought are based on languages which are spoken and heard, so this event will provide an innovative and fresh approach.

The DCAL open day will include lectures, hands on activities and sign language poetry and film performances. It has been organised by the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL). The centre's research provides a unique perspective on language and thought based on deaf people's communication.

The event will explore how the brain works and whether there is such a thing as a 'deaf brain'. A deaf person's brain can understand sign language in a very similar way to a hearing person's brain processes spoken language. The same parts of the brain are used when we are listening whether we are using our ears or using sign language to communicate. Understanding the Broca and Wernicke, the language processing areas of the brain, has helped to uncover how deaf people interpret sign language.

Organiser Robert Adam said "We hope to have over 100 deaf community members, friends and colleagues along on the day to find out how we research British Sign Language, what our research has found about deaf people and the way our brains may work differently".

The unique event provides an exciting opportunity to showcase the valuable work of the UK's social scientists and demonstrate how their work has supported the deaf community.

For further information contact

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors

  1. DCAL Open day:
    • Organiser: Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London
    • Venue: Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre (Room G06), Torrington Place, London WC1E 7JE
    • Audience: Suitable to all
  2. Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre is based at University College London. DCAL is a world renowned centre of excellence for research on BSL. The centre brings together leading Deaf and hearing researchers in the fields of sign linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience. DCAL is funded by The Economic Social Research Council (ESRC)
  3. The Festival of Social Science is run by the Economic and Social Research Council which runs from 12 to 21 March 2010, alongside National Science and Engineering Week. Events from some of the country's leading social scientists the festival celebrates the very best of British Social Science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future. The Festival of Social Science provides insight into research in a variety of formats; from traditional lectures and exhibitions to theatrical performances, film screenings and topical debates. The Festival of Social Science is aimed at a range of different audiences, including policymakers, business, the media, the general public and students of all ages.
  4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
  5. You can now follow updates from the ESRC on Twitter (@ESRC), including new funding calls as they are posted, press releases, events and more.