Welome to the Literacy And Deafness Development Research (LADDER) Lab!

The LADDER Lab is made up of a group of researchers based at the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at UCL and City, University of London.  We are interested in understanding how literacy and language skills are acquired, and investigating the underlying cognitive processes involved in literacy development.

Our studies work with a range of groups of children, including typically-developing children, deaf children, and children with dyslexia and struggling readers. 

Our research programme has three common themes:

  1. Identifying problems in literacy and language
  2. Understanding the cognitive and language processes that underpin reading and spelling
  3. Developing effective interventions to remediate reading difficulties.

We conduct internationally–renowned research into deaf and hearing children’s language and reading development and difficulties.  Some hearing children and many deaf children have language delays and find reading challenging. It is important to understand how, and when, the language and reading processes can break down in order to devise effective interventions to remediate difficulties.  As part of this work to identify difficulties, we have developed a range of assessments to measure language skills. We work with practitioners and other key stakeholders to translate research findings into potential practice implications.

Click on “Our Research” tab to find out more about our research projects.  Click on the “Taking part in our research” tab if you are a parent or professional wanting to find out more.

Latest News

“Talking about reading” FREE Ladder Lab event at Finsbury Library

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. Come along to this event and learn more about the psychological processes behind learning to read, and the skills that deaf and hearing children need to read fluently. The event combines talks, activities and interactive displays, and will be of interest to anyone interested in learning how we learn to read, and ways to support children’s reading. Parents and professionals, as well as children and young people are especially welcome.

Date: Tuesday, 5th November 2019

Time: 5:00PM – 6.30PM

Location: Finsbury Library, 245 St John Street, London, EC1V4NB Map

BSL/English interpreters will be present to ensure full inclusion for all those attending.

The event is free, but please register and book your ticket through Eventbrite here

Recruitment is completed for our preschool language and literacy study

We have now finished recruitment for our preschool language and literacy study with 3-4 year olds. Thank you very much to all of the nurseries and families who are taking part. Watch this space for updates on our findings and the latest developments with the project!

Now recruiting! Deaf and hearing children aged 3-4

How is preschool language related to later reading ability? As part of a new research project called “Preschool language and literacy” we are looking for nurseries and children to take part and help us answer this important question.

Some hearing children and many deaf children find learning to read challanging. It is therefore important to identify children who may struggle with reading BEFORE they start learning to read. Early identification will help ensure that children who need it have appropriate support as they begin learning to read.

We are looking for deaf and hearing children who are 3-4 years old, use spoken language, and have no significant additional educational needs.

If you are a parent, teacher, or other professional who would like their child or nursery to take part, or if you are looking for more information about the project, please contact us, or download our project flyer here: