Skip to main content

DST Logo Deaf Studies Trust


Home » News



Deafblind Worlds

Research Projects


About Us

Contact Us

Main Content


TC-Cap: Total Conversation with live captions - 2018

Although most people are aware of the potential of automatic speech recognition and although we can see this in action in applications on our mobile phones (e.g. i-phone Siri) and in our living rooms (e.g. Amazon Alexa) at the present time, there is no solution which can deal with the complexity of telephone calls. With funding from Innovate UK, a Government business support scheme, the Deaf Studies Trust has been working with local company, BBITG, to develop a solution.

The first step was to create a database of phone calls .... since there was not one publicly available which would allow us to study the very varied forms of interaction when people communicate by telephone. There are ways in which linguists describe phone calls but this discourse analysis does not lead to a means of recognising the speech. The problems relate to the way in which people talk to each other, the fact that people often already share information and because of this their speech could be very informal (and ungrammatical). What they mean often is not explicit in what they say; they may also have very different purposes which may lead to questioning, complaints and even disputes. The other complicating factor is that telephone lines and connections may not be very good and so speech may not be clear. We know that hard of hearing people have great problems with telephone calls and we also know that there are large numbers of people in the UK who do not hear well. After 9 months of work, we were able to demonstrate working models of automatic speech recognition in action in phone calls. The development included the application of Artificial Intelligence techniques which take into account the nature of the dialogue. You can read about the first phase of this work on our downloads page.

The Centre for Deaf Studies in Bristol

There was always a strong link between the University of Bristol Centre for Deaf Studies and the Deaf Studies Trust. While the University department provided training and degree programmes and engaged in large scale formative research the Trust focussed more on the community and commissioned research work. A list of the Trust work can be found here.

The University staff were often associated with the Trust and indeed, many started work with the Trust before moving into the University. Towards the end of the 00's, the University began to change and moved awwy from supporting smaller Centres. Various other pressures added to the move to reduce and then finally to close the Centre. Althugh technically, the Centre closed in 2014, there were still research students in the system and the last ones will complete sometime in 2017. An outline story of the Centre was provided to the BATOD website. It is also possible to find the story here and on our downloads page.

Conrad 100 years old in 2016


Dr Reuben Conrad whose work in the 1970's changed the way we viewed deaf children's education has reached the age of 100 years this year. He was one fo the founding Trustees of the Deaf Studies Trust in 1984 and retained a considerable interest in deaf issues after his retirement. He became well known for his findings on inner speech coding which when applied to deaf children opened up the possibility that deaf children could learn to read with a sign language code. He advocated a Total Communication approach and set the scene for the development of sign bilingual education. A brief explanation of his contribution can be found on the downloads page. A general tribute to him can be found in The Psychologist. (Bishop D (2016) Quality and Longevity, The Psychologist, volume 29, July,  pp 578-579).

Bristol Deaf Worlds

poster header

Celebrating 175 years since the opening of the Deaf School in Bristol, 140 years since adult Deaf people came together and 70 years of Elmfield School.

There was a historical exhibition and interactive games, demonstration of new equipment for Deaf people and films and discussion. There were sign language classes, yoga class and a chance to learn about lip-reading.

Programme information is here. You can download and share the poster from here.

Over 250 people attended the event and there was a great deal of interaction around the displays. Photograps over 100 years old were discussed and hearing aids from the 1930s were viewed. A series of leaflets were prepared and are being extended. You can find these on the downloads page.

DWP call for evidence concerning BSL

DST have submitted a paper in response to Government calls for evidence. A shortened five page version was submitted for the March deadline. However, a full version of the response with appendices can be accessed on our downloads page.

Lost Spaces Project

In conjunction with the University of York St Johns, DST has been engaged in a project of regeneration for the Deaf community in Bristol. Given the recent problems of the Deaf Centre, this has been a major task and one which will continue into the future. A report on the activities in 2015 and early 2016 is on the downloads page.

30 Years Celebration

On 13th June, at the Vassall Centre in Bristol, the Trust offered a whole day event providing insight into the work of the Trust over the last 30 years and provided a forum for discussion of future initiaives. There was also a special tribute to Hal Draper a former Chair of the Trust who died recently. (download information here)

Bold Shield Project

This project set up under the SBRi (small busiess research initiative) focused mainly on thos with learning difficulties. DST role was to examine the issues for video and new health technologies for Deaf people. The report mainly concerns the responses of focus groups. The report can be seen on the downloads page.

Deaf Health

From 2010 to 2013, in conjunction with Sign Health and colleagues in the University of Bristol, we a carried out a unique study of Deaf people's health outcomes. The emphasis here is on "outcomes" because for the first time we were able to measure the health of Deaf people. We invited 300 Deaf people (sign language users) to a local Bupa Centre in order to undergo a standard health assessment. The people were chosen to represent the population as a whole and they were drawn from locations in Scotland, England and Wales. They were aged from 20 to 80 years old. We already knew that Deaf people had difficulty in access to health care but for the first time were able to show the effects of this. The results show serious problems for Deaf people, considerable dissatisfaction with their local GPs and a worrying lack of involvement in their own health care. You can download the executive summary and the main part of the report from our downloads page.

You can find published papers on this work as

Emond A, Allsop L, Alexander A, Sutherland H and Kyle JG (2015) Access to Primary Care affects the Health of Deaf People,
Br J of General Practice
, February, 95-96

Emond A, Ridd M, Sutherland H, Alexander A, and Kyle JG (2015) The current health of the signing Deaf community in the UK compared with
the general population: a cross sectional study, BMJ Open, 2015;5:e006668.

DeafBlind Worlds

The DeafBlind Worlds project funded by the Lottery reached its final phase some time ago. There is now a full published report See our Downloads page. You can also view more details.

Video Telephony for Deaf people

DST has been working on video telephony for around 15 years and during that time has progressed from ISDN videophones to new downloadable apps and relay services for sign language users and links to text relay. Most recently, 2009 -2012, we engaged in a large scale pilot programme (REACH112) with the University of Bristol and several other national partners, to create a video telephony service for all, which allowed Deaf and hearing people to communicate directly or through an interpreter. The key aspiration was to be able to call emergency services and we worked closely with the police and the Fire Service. With over 2,000 users and nearly 50,000 calls in a 12 month period, this was a very successful project. Project partners continued the work in the TC Cymru Project in Wales and this led to the formation of myFriend Network This work continues but with a much reduced service in these times of austerity. You can read the relevant reports on our Downloads page.