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Networking at the Talking about reading event at Finsbury Library
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Talking about reading

Finsbury Library hosts City and UCL’s Ladder Lab to discuss the challenges deaf and hearing children have when learning to read.

by Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer)

Do you remember how you learned to read? Reading is something we learn in childhood and is an important aspect of our lives. While many people enjoy reading a good book, for others reading remains a struggle.  

The Literacy and Development Research Lab (‘Ladder Lab’) is a joint initiative between academics in the Division of Language and Communication Sciences at City, University of London and the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London (UCL).

The aim of the lab is to better understand how literacy and language skills are acquired, including the underlying cognitive (memory and thinking) processes involved in literacy development.

Earlier this month, the Ladder Lab team delivered an evening of talks and activities which highlighted the challenges deaf and hearing children face when learning how to read fluently.

The event was held as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science 2019 and was hosted at Finsbury Library, close to City’s Northampton Square Campus. Open to all, the event was well attended by speech and language professionals and parents. British Sign Language (BSL) and English interpreters were present to ensure full inclusion for all those attending.

Dr Kate Rowley, Research Associate at DCAL, delivered the first talk of the evening, discussing the importance of phonetics (‘sounding out’ or ‘signing out’ words) to children when they learn to read which can be particularly challenging for deaf children. She stressed that the key predictors of learning to read successfully are the acquisition of a large, varied vocabulary and reading experience.

Dr Kate Rowley

Speech and language therapist, Stephen Parsons, then discussed how much fun vocabulary learning can be when using the Word Aware method, a structured whole school approach to promote the vocabulary development of children, and focused on whole class learning.

The final talk came from Ros Herman, Professor of Child Language and Deafness at City.  She runs the Sign Language and Reading Assessment Clinic on-site at City’s Roberta Williams Speech and Language Therapy Centre. The clinic is an outreach based service, offering clinical assessments of child and adult British Sign Language (BSL) users language and literacy skills, based on her research on language acquisition and literacy assessment in deaf children.

Professor Herman’s talk focused on a new research study, which piloted a language and reading intervention in both schools and units for deaf children, and mainstream schools. The study found that with the right strategy, schools were willing to sign up to the study, and once underway, and with support, teachers were able to deliver the intervention effectively to their students.

After a questions and answers session, the event moved on to networking and activities highlighting the ongoing work of the Ladder Lab.

Professor Ros Herman in conversation at the event

Reflecting on the support for the event, co-organiser, Professor Herman said:

A big thank you to everyone who came to our event, and especially to the fabulous Chris and Noreen at Islington Libraries for their help in making it such a success.

Find out more about the Ladder Lab

To find out more, visit the Ladder Lab website.

Putting Research into Practice

Earlier in the year, Professor Herman along with City colleague, Penny Roy, Honorary Visiting Professor of Developmental Psychology, co-chaired the 'Putting Research into Practice' event, showcasing the latest research findings from the Centre for Language and Communication Science Research, and to discuss implications for clinical practice with a range of speech and language professionals.

Two parallel streams of presentations covered both developmental and adult areas of the Centre’s language and communication research. Presentations summarised key research findings and their potential or actual impact in clinical practice. Attendees were encouraged to share how they would use research findings to change clinical practice by discussion during the event, through feedback forms and through further interaction with the Centre.

Have a look at what was shared on Twitter.

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