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  2. MSc Projects with Ros Herman
School of Health Sciences

MSc Projects with Ros Herman

General research interests

My research interests are generally focused within the area of language development and deafness.  I am particularly interested in the development of language in British Sign Language (BSL), both typical and atypical, and developing assessments of language acquisition in BSL.  

Suggested MSc projects

  • Core Vocabulary Therapy project with deaf children in Greenwich

Greenwich are offering 2-4 students the opportunity to take part in a therapy project with deaf children. The project is to deliver and evaluate a course of Core Vocabulary Therapy, an intervention that has been used successfully with children with speech disorders, but not with deaf children. There is relatively little evidence for therapy approaches with deaf children, therefore these projects are clinically highly significant.

Relevant reading:
Dodd, B., Holm, A., Crosbie, S. and McIntosh, B. (2006). A core vocabulary approach for management of inconsistent speech disorder. Advances in Speech Language Pathology, 8,(3), 220-230.

  • Acquisition of handling classifiers in BSL

Handling classifiers are used in BSL to show how classes of objects are manipulated,  For example, the handshape used to represent handling a long thin object (e.g. a pen) is different to the one used to show how a flat object (e.g. book) might be held.  One theoretical issue to be considered is whether the iconicity of such handshapes influences acquisition. 


I have collected data on over 100 deaf children aged 4-11 years performing a narrative task that includes a number of different handling classifiers. This project would involve coding the collected data for correct/incorrect use of handling classifiers and exploring errors to establish developmental patterns.  Factors such as child gender, age, cognitive ability and exposure to BSL would need to be considered. 
Note: The researcher would need to have BSL skills at around Stage 2 CACDP or equivalent for analysing BSL data.

  • Narrative development in deaf children

There is a considerable amount of research on the development of narratives in hearing children acquiring a spoken language.  Narrative skills develop in a predictable manner during the early school years; mastery of narrative skills correlates with academic achievements such as literacy.  For these reasons, narrative is considered an important skill for children to develop and clinical measures (e.g. Bus Story, ERRNI) have been designed specifically to assess this aspect of language development. 


We know very little about narrative development in deaf children, either those who speak or those who are BSL users, however there are now 2 available measures: the BSL Production Test (deaf BSL users) and SNAP (oral deaf children).  A number of projects are therefore possible, looking generally at patterns of narrative development in deaf children in either spoken or signed language or comparing narrative skills in deaf children with literacy skills or indeed other areas of ability. 


I have collected data on approx 100 deaf signing children aged 4-11 years and more limited data on hearing (speaking) controls.  This data could be used for comparison with newly collected data on the narrative task in a number of different projects:

  1. Comparison of deaf and hearing children's spoken narratives;
  2. Comparison of spoken and signed narratives in deaf bilinguals;
  3. The relationship between deaf children's (spoken or signed) narrative skills and reading abilities.
    Note: The researcher would need to have BSL skills at around Stage 2 CACDP or equivalent for BSL data.
  • Evaluation of EPG therapy with a deaf student

This study follows on from previous successful single case studies of EPG work with deaf clients. The project is for 2 students using EPG and/or ultrasound technology in therapy with a deaf student to establish velar plosives and possibly affricates. Each student would take one of two perspectives:
a. one student to look at the phonological contrasts
b. one student to look at whether the EPG/ultrasound therapy had a more general effect on intelligibility using listener judgments

Ref:
Pantelemidou V, Herman R & Thomas J (2003) Efficacy of speech intervention using electropalatography with a cochlear implant user.  Journal of Clinical Phonetics & Linguistics, 17, 1-11. 

MSc projects previously supervised

  • Therapy efficacy using EPG with deaf clients.
  • Comprehension of negation in BSL acquisition.
  • Comprehension of spatial verbs in BSL acquisition.
  • Speech development in children post cochlear implantation.
  • Pragmatic skills in young children with cochlear implants.
  • BSL skills in children post cochlear implantation.
  • Intervention practice following identification of deafness through NHSP.
  • Assessing communication in deaf children attending oral/aural units.
  • The social interaction of a deaf signing child with deaf and hearing peers.
  • Collaborative working practices between SLTs and teachers of the deaf.
  • Development of a language measure for deaf children post cochlear implantation.
  • Factors that influence stress levels in parents of young deaf children.

Key words

Deaf, sign language, language acquisition, language assessment, cochlear implant