March 23, 2009

DCSF Research Funding: Speech, Language & Communication Needs


The Department of Children, Schools and Families currently is open for expressions of interest for their Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Cost Effectiveness Research Programme. This is under their aim to "secure the wellbeing and health of children and young people". The closing date is 7 April 2009, and we're told its "half a million pounds each year, making it to 1.5 mill, with possibility to 2 extra years". Further details:

2009030 DCSF: Speech, Language And Communication Needs (SLCN) Cost-Effectiveness Research Programme

Expected date ITT's will be issued by 13-Apr-2009

Closing date for expressions of interest: 7 April 2009

The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health are seeking to contract an organisation to deliver a research programme to guide the development of future policy and practice in providing services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

The aims of this programme are to improve the evidence base available to commissioners and policymakers in developing services for children and young people with SLCN by:

" Understanding the cost-effectiveness of different interventions used to support children and young people with SLCN and the factors that influence their efficiency

" Identifying good practice and developing recommendations that can be incorporated into guidance, future policy and commissioning frameworks to improve services for children and young people with SLCN.

The programme should encompass interventions made for all children and young people with SLCN including those with a full range of different primary and in a full range of different circumstances.

This research programme will encompass a number of projects. We expect the organisation contracted to manage the overall programme to work with others who have the relevant expertise and resources to deliver each project, recruiting new sub-contractors in the course of the programme where appropriate.

Expressions of interest should give a short indication of the way in which the contractor will approach the work (up to 750 words) and selection of those invited to tender will be on the basis of submitted expressions of interest only.

Contact details: James Vance, SEN and Disability Division, Department for Children, Schools and Families, Sanctuary Buildings - Area 1E, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT. Phone: 020 7783 8265; e-mail:

Length of contract: This contract runs for three years up to March 2012, with the possibility of extension for up to a further two years (2012-2014).

Estimated value of contract: We expect the research programme to cost up to ?500,000 each year (so up to ?1.5m over the course of this contract).

Closing date for expressions of interest: 7 April 2009

Any other useful info.: This research follows-up research commissioned as part of the Bercow Review of Services for Children and Young People (0-19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (see This specification is based on the recommendations of that research report (Lindsay, G., Desforges, M., Dockrell, J., Law, J., Peacey, N. & Beecham, J. (2008). Effective and Efficient Use of Resources in Services for Children and Young People with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. DCSF - available at It will fulfil a commitment made in the Government's action plan to improve services for children and young people with SLCN which provided a response to the Bercow Review in December 2008 (

DfES Objective Secure the wellbeing and health of children and young people

Key Research Priority

DfES Project Manager James Vance



We hope this bid would include expressions for British Sign Language, to balance out the intense focus on medical intervention and the speech therapy funding that's in place with this. Note, there is not a single mention of BSL in the Bercow Review, which speaks volumes! So much for BSL recognition, and basic status as a language. Welsh is included in basic speech and language provision. If equality is going to be achieved, then BSL has to be brought into mainstream tendering processes, to raise it into the conciousness of the more mainstream.

See also:
BSL Recognition: Tender Specification from the Department of Children, Schools & Families
BSL Recognition: Tender to Improve Access & Demand for BSL

DfES, Research Website: Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Cost-Effectiveness Research Programme
Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Action
Department of Health: Better Communciation [PDF]

February 1, 2008

Two Things To Read Today

We all know how long Friday afternoons can be sometimes. So, if you want something to read, why not try TigerDeafie, Dr Steven Emery's cool new blog. Nice photo, Steve!

Or you can always have a laugh over the uproar over the Thai Prime Minister's sign name. Oh dear. Some cultural chasms cannot seem to be bridged, no?


October 29, 2007

Sign of the Times: dvd on path to legal recogntion of NZSL

signofthetimes.jpgRecently we blogged about a NZ scientist and his contribution to the Nobel Prize Peace Award.

Within the post we also mentioned Victoria Manning, and in the comments, we were asked how to view a film - Land of the Deaf - that had been made. Whilst we don't have details of this particular film, another film has been made which might be of interest.

Readers will be aware of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006, which grants NZSL official status, and how Victoria Manning had played a part in this.

Since we've yet to achieve legal recognition in the UK, for those of you with an interest in this subject might be interested in purchasing a copy of a recent dvd on the legal status of NZSL.

If you would like a copy, you can download the NZ Overseas Order Form [PDF].

We have yet to see the film, and currently awaiting information on whether Paypal or similar is accepted as a form of payment. If anyone has details on this, please use the comment box.

See also:
Deaf Scientist in the UK involved in Nobel Prize Peace Award.

October 5, 2007

Photo Video Friday: Danish Deaf March

Recognise Sign Language in Copenhagen

Hooray for the Danish Deafies who marched last weekend!

October 1, 2007

Learn to Sign Week (UK)

It's Learn to Sign Week this week (1st-7th October). Check out the BDA's new Learn to Sign website here!

Also, there will be a Deafie on The Paul O' Grady Show at 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday). Whoopee do!

Not forgetting See Hear is back on Wednesday, in its rather crap new 1pm mid week slot. I still object (see link below)!

Anyway, if you can't sign... this week is the week to learn!


See also:
Save See Hear!

September 29, 2007

Finally! A vlog! In honour of International SL Day...

A rather un-grumpy vlog, featuring Jen, her runaway dog and some trees...

English script:

It's International Sign Languages Day today, and I thought I would vlog from my corner of the world, just to show that, indeed, there are sign languages all over the world.

So here I am in the middle of nowhere - AKA Yorkshire - quite near my house. It's kind of over there somewhere... can you swivel the camera please?


Great, thank you. Oh no, the dog's running off! [LOL] Happy International Sign Languages Day! Oh, one last thing...


May 5, 2007

BSL Bible Translation Project

bslbible.jpgThe British Sign Language Bible Translation Project now has its own website.

I'm only going to focus on BSL as a language here. Irrespective of what your religious beliefs are (even if you have them), this is an important project in terms of raising the status of BSL. Whether the Bible is translated into a particular language has been used as one benchmark in denoting the validity of a language. After all, besides legal recognition raising the status of a language takes many forms.

Wish the site would push the language model a bit more. Who said only Deaf people would like to access the Bible in BSL?

It also states:

Why do we need a Bible in BSL?

Many Deaf people find reading English difficult; it is hard to learn English without access to the sounds of the language from birth.

I hate this sentence. Please someone hit the delete button. It comes across as BSL is the failure option, even though unlikely intended by its authors. This sort of sentence isn't unique on this site, and is seen across too much literature. We don't need to devalue BSL.

In tone, it reads like this: I tried to use English - can't, couldn't, I am a failure. Therefore they had to teach me BSL instead. Sorry about this, but I need help.

Whilst Deaf people's brain might be wired up differently, and there's the exposure to language and even educational opportunity: don't make excuses for using BSL. Some people use English, some people use BSL.

If we are going to raise the status of BSL, it needs to be treated as a language, and is used in the same way as other minority languages around the globe. No apologies or excuses necessary, as it devalues BSL. Instead it has every right to be used in the same way as English, Welsh, Gaelic, or any other language globally.

I can only hope the translation will be disseminated online, and to allow embedding on various other sites. I'm thinking of making this website as a case study from a geek angle over at Noesis, over the need to move towards web 2.0 and also the whole information thing. May take a while, as I've got several thoughts that need covering and so many posts I would like to write.

April 30, 2007

Do Gorilla's have their own language?

koko.jpgSome of you will be familiar with Koko, at The Gorilla Foundation, who was taught ASL along with Michael (who has now passed away). Koko's participation began in the early 1970s, and now knows more than over 1000 signs, and understands over 2000 words of spoken English. More information can be read here.

For those who are interested in language acquisition specifically with gorillas, a research paper has been recently published which focuses on Do Gorilla's have their Own Language? and can be found here: The Development of Spontaneous Gestures in Zoo-living Gorillas and Sign-taught Gorillas: From Action and Location to Object Representation [PDF]

What can we learn about the origins of language by comparing the gestures of zoo gorillas to those created spontaneously by Koko, a gorilla who has learned sign language? Drs. Penny Patterson and Joanne Tanner address this question in their latest scientific publication based on a multi-year study.

Update: See the comments for this post. Chimp Language Studies [PDF] and Primates and Language. Thanks, Janis!

Update 2: See article, Apes my lead to the origin of language. Thanks, Tony B!

April 11, 2007

Petition for Interpreters in Legal Proceedings

A Number 10 petition petition has been set up around the use of accredited and professional interpreters in legal proceedings. This isn't limited to BSL, but other languages too:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that accredited and professional interpreters are used in legal proceedings, from time of arrest throughout the judicial system, and that 'language agencies' who provide unqualified so-called interpreters should be strictly monitiored and disqualified from providing interpreting services. More details

Further detail is provided as:

Unqualified interpreters are being employed at police stations and at Court, to provide a service that must be accurate and professionally undertaken.

Only interpreters from the 'Nation Register of Public Service Interpreters' should be used for judicial purposes (including the initial stages of an investigation). Members have proved themselves to be proficient, having passed stringent exams, and are monitored regularly.

Most agencies employ unqualified interpreters, many of whom cannot speak English; they are generally unqualified and do not meet the standard required, thus, foreign offenders 'get off', due to poor interpretation services from the outset.

The police, CPS, and Courts MUST use accredited interpreters.

With so many foreign migrant workers in the UK, the NRPSI network of accredited interpreters MUST be used, in order that foreign offenders can be treated in the same way as indigenous Britons.

Whilst I support this, I feel frustrated how little people really understand how things work online. Again, as with my question around the subtitling petition, I immediately ask is the time frame realistic? Waiting one whole year loses momentum, and a week is a long time in cyberspace, nevermind a year. I will have forgotten about this in a month, and the long timeframe discourages me from the urgency to address this. Even if you need time to reach out to others through conferences, and written publications, it is still too long. Do people really need one year to collect names?

July 3, 2006

Google wants to translate the world's languages

In an online article on BBCi, Google states:

"online language translation was important because the company's philosophy was to provide access to "all the world's information".

"We are doing a lot of work in our labs on mechanised translation," he said.

"It (search) should not be stuff in languages we just happen to speak right now.""

Sergey and Larry, are you doing any work on translating signed languages and vice versa? Language isn't limited to spoken languages. I don't see any evidence of Google addressing visual languages.