NIH Awards $503,999 Grant to Study Language Deprivation in Deaf Children

February 21, 2017

A lecturer — “professor” — in the Deaf Studies program at Boston University was awarded a three-year, $503,999 grant to research language deprivation in deaf children. This grant is from the NIH National Institutes of Health. 


The lecturer’s name is Dr. Naomi Caselli. She said the goal is to develop three tests of early ASL vocabulary — that will measure deaf children’s vocabulary, ability to express words/signs, and language reception skills. She wants the tests to be publicly available so schools and early intervention specialists nationwide can use it.


In an article posted on, she said there are currently early screenings to test if children are deaf in hospitals (which will trigger interventions if the child is deaf) — but that her question is if those early interventions are successful in relation to young deaf children learning language. 


She said many deaf children are at risk for delayed language acquisition and that many deaf schools have large numbers of children who are affected, but that there needs to be assessments to provide clarity on how widespread this problem is.


Dr. Caselli recognized LEAD-K’s efforts of passing state laws to make sure deaf children are not delayed in learning language. 


She will first look to establish what is normal for deaf children who are not at risk for language deprivation — to develop a baseline to compare against others who are at risk. She will later work with another program at BU to develop the test and make it available nationwide.


It’s wonderful to know that there is more focus and research on language deprivation. Check out the links below for more information about this grant and about Dr. Caselli.


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