Scientific findings relevant to the deaf community often fail to reach deaf people due to their low reading ability and the costs of sign language translations, therefore discussion about research findings is scarce. To provide accessible, relevant research summaries to the deaf community is crucial, as this community is often left with no access to scientific evidence to guide important decisions in various important aspects of their life. It is expected that increasing the availability and accessibility of rigorous scientific knowledge will counteract common misconceptions and advice that is not research-led.
We aim to solve this issue, increase the scientific literacy of deaf people and co-construct future research with them, by summarising relevant research with British Sign Language videos and discussions in a dedicated YouTube channel. It is intended that this set of long-lasting resources will raise awareness of state-of-the-art scientific results, debates and methods within the deaf community and support deaf people to pursue higher level education and actively participate in research.
Why did you apply to the Active Engagement Fund?
Translation to British Sign Language is often neglected because it requires excellent knowledge of the language and extra resources. These same reasons explain the lack of more fluid conversation with the deaf public. However, this is a necessary conversation to ensure quality research that can improve people’s lives. The Active Engagement Fund (AEF), being flexible and specifically targeted to increase impact, offered the opportunity to open this conversation with the community.
The AEF will cover the costs for a Research Assistant to work in collaboration with the Royal Association for Deaf People to film the content in BSL, promote the videos and YouTube channel, and support conversation through social media. The RA will provide added capacity to respond to comments, provide additional information and direct questions to the appropriate person to answer.
What excites you about your Active Engagement Fund project?
The opportunity to enable deaf people to engage in self-educating about issues relevant to them.
I am always looking for a way to engage deaf people with my research as I am convinced that this is the only way to produce high quality research outputs with a real impact. Creating a YouTube channel that hosts bite-sized videos summarizing relevant research findings and encouraging discussions of these findings has many advantages. Amongst others, it would be accessible as well as appealing for deaf people of all ages, it would contribute to increase scientific literacy and it would allow us to collaborate with the public in shaping up future research in a way that is meaningful to them. Furthermore, to have a real impact research on language and communication in deaf people needs to be deaf-lead. These funds will help us to start increasing scientific literacy of deaf people, which would increase the chances of some of them pursuing a career in cognitive neuroscience research.
This funding will help build a strong link between the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex and the Royal Association for Deaf People that can result in joint funding applications with better chances to succeed.
What do you aim to do next?
We will encourage other researchers that are fluent in BSL to film a summary of their own research and add to the channel. We will continue to engage with the deaf community through social media to facilitate future involvement of deaf people in research, not only as participants in experiments but as research assistants, postgraduate students and junior researchers themselves.
The videos will be made accessible to the public indefinitely and advertised repeatedly over time on social media and RAD’s distribution channels. Comments and questions on those channels will continue to be addressed when posted.
We also aim to promote the materials for use by students who are interested in deafness-related research for their projects, contributing to increased awareness and knowledge in sectors of the general population as well.
Up to £500 is available from the Active Engagement Fund to enable meetings with early-stage discussions to explore collaborations with potential research users or other similar opportunities. Up to £2,000 is available for events, or other activity, to support engagement; or to assist in the creation of new partnerships and promotion of research to new networks and sectors. We aim to assess applications within 2 weeks of submission, to allow rapid responses to opportunities.
Find out more about the AEF application process here or contact the IAA team with any questions.