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Professor Ros Herman delivers her inaugural lecture at City, University of London as part of the School of Health and Psychological Sciences Dean’s Lecture Series.

By Mr Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Ros Herman is Professor of Child Language and Deafness at the School of Health and Psychological Sciences, City, University of London and has led the development of the first sign language tests for deaf children.

If a hearing child has a problem communicating, speech and language therapists can often identify that problem quickly and make sure that the child’s needs are met. However, for deaf children, who might use spoken or sign language, it isn’t as straightforward.

Sign language testing is beginning to change that. By identifying a signing deaf child’s strengths and development needs, families and schools can find the best placements, language models and interventions for the child.

In her inaugural lecture that took place at Bayes Business School last week, Professor Herman spoke about the process of creating these tests, the children whose lives have been changed by access to sign language testing, and the wider implications of testing children’s sign language development.

Her lecture was also delivered as a hybrid event to both an in-person and online audience simultaneously, and incorporated the use of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters and live captioning of the presentation.

You can watch a recording of the entire event on the University’s YouTube Channel below:

Professor Ros Herman Inaugural Lecture: How Sign Language Testing Can Change a Deaf Child’s Life

In the closing remarks to her lecture, Professor Herman said:

I hope what we’ve talked about has persuaded you that language assessment is important for all children and deaf children as much as any child, and development of sign language assessments has value in terms of the individuals whose lives it affects , but also allows us to answer other questions about how deaf children learn sign language and whether some children have difficulties with that process.

“There are still too few assessments for deaf children, more are needed, and also I don’t want to say that actually an assessment that comes in a box is the only thing we need when we’re assessing a deaf child’s language.  We need to have many, many other sorts of skills as well, we need to have trained professionals to do the job. It’s not just a ‘carry out a test and you’ve got an answer’. I’ve made it a little bit simple for today’s presentation, but I think many people in the audience know there’s a lot more to it than that.

“And finally starting to assess a child’s sign language and identifying any difficulties they have is a starting point. We need to then think about what we do next, and projects that we’ve done subsequently, such as DOTDeaf, have built on this research and DOTDeaf is a project where were developing online training for deaf practitioners to enable them to be skilled to work with deaf children who have got language difficulties in sign language.”

Professor Debra Salmon, Dean of the School of Health and Psychological Sciences, introduced the lecture as part of the Dean’s Lecture series, and said at its end:

“I just wanted to take this final opportunity to say it was a fantastic talk, I think we learnt so much from Ros and her contribution to this area is absolutely extraordinary, you’ve made such a difference to so many children and so many people for that matter.”

Find out more

Visit the Centre for Language and Communication Sciences

Visit the DOTDeaf Project

Visit the Ladder Lab

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