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Sign language users have better
reaction times and peripheral vision

Posted: 9th February 2017 Sign language users have better reaction times and peripheral vision.

Sign language users have better reaction times and peripheral vision, report researchers from the University of Sheffield.

A new study showed that deaf adults have the best peripheral vision and reaction times comparing to hearing adults and British Sign Language (BSL) users, providing further evidence that losing one of your five senses enhances the others.

The findings, revealed by scientists from the University’s Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics, show that learning a visual-spatial language such as BSL has a positive impact on visual field response – something which is highly beneficial in many sports and when driving.


Dr Charlotte Codina, lead author of the study at the University of Sheffield, said: “We were surprised by the quicker response times of BSL interpreters, who haven’t necessarily known sign language since childhood, but have improved their peripheral visual sensitivity in learning this visual language and using it daily.”

“This shows that becoming a BSL interpreter is not only an interesting job, but it also has benefits such as making you more alert to changes in your peripheral field that could help when driving, playing sport or refereeing a football match for example."”


Deaf people have exceptional visual abilities
and faster reaction times

Reaction Times

The pioneering research also found deaf adults have significantly better peripheral vision and reaction times than both hearing adults and BSL users, providing scientific evidence to support the common belief that losing one of your five senses, such as hearing, can enhance others like sight or smell.

“We found that deaf adults have faster reaction times around the whole of the visual field, extending as far as 85 degrees peripherally near the edge of vision,” said Dr Codina. “Our study shows that deaf people have exceptional visual abilities that hearing adults do not. These findings support the common belief in sensory compensation.”

BSL is the most common form of sign language in the UK and is used by around 145,000 people. It has its own grammatical structure and syntax and as a language it is not dependent nor is it strongly related to spoken English.


ISL is used by 40,000 people
in Ireland every day

Irish Sign Language

In Ireland there are an estimated 5,000 Deaf Irish Sign Language (ISL) users, with up to 40,000 people using ISL to communicate on a daily basis. It is also hoped that ISL will be officially recognised in legislation this year, as an ISL Recognition Bill is presently progressing through the Dail and Seanad.


Related to this story:

Step on road to ISL Recognition
Posted: October 2016

On October 19th another important step on the road to Irish Sign Language (ISL) recognition was achieved. Read on... ComReg give green light to new Text Relay service

Media Contacts will provide spokespersons to comment on issues relevant to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on request.

To contact Brendan Lennon; Head of Information and Policy, click here...


Original Story:, Image: Moulton College UK.





more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.


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