Prof Alys Young PhD., FAcSS.,MSc Oxon., MA Cantab., CQSW

Prof of Social Work Education & Research

Full contact details
View graph of relations

Research interests

My research primarily concerns deaf children and families; health and social care services and organisational research concering d/Deaf people over the life course; social science research methodologies in the context of signed languages and the intersection of being Deaf and disability.   My research programme (SORD:  Social Research with Deaf People) is a research group within the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work.  I enjoy an international reputation for the quality and relevance of my work to both service improvement and theoretical innovation in applied social research in this specialist field.

Deaf Children and Families

Work focuses on understanding better the diversity of hearing family contexts in which services seek to intervene and deaf children seek to develop. This is a rapidly changing situation in light of very early identification of deafness, growth in cochlear implantation and greater recognition of Sign Language. 

Current projects include:

Recently completed projects include:

  • a qualitative study of families with a deaf child with autism, funded by MRC as part of a larger study led by the National Deaf Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service into better screening and assessment instruments for deaf children with autism.
  • a longitudinal study of 600 deaf babies under 5 in South Africa focussing on profiling children, families and available services against outcomes and development. (Main collaborator - Professor Claudine Storbeck and the Hi Hopes service based in Johannesburg)
  • a study of best practice in Further Education for deaf young people (funded by NDCS)


Health and Social Care Research Concerning d/Deaf people

Work focusses on both the impact of Deafness and d/Deaf people on the provision of services and the impact of services on d/Deaf people. 

Recent projects include:

  • the development of a life-story tool for Deaf people with dementia (funded by NIHR/ESRC)
  • the dissemination of key findings to service providers and the Deaf community of a recent project exploring the barriers to early identification of dementia amongst Deaf people (both projects funded by the Alzheimer's Society)
  • a study of the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of IAPT delivered directly in BSL by Deaf people in comparison with Deaf people accessing usual care (mainstream IAPT) with reasonable adjustments (funded by NIHR)
  • a study exploring quality standards in interpreting and translation provision for Deaf people accessing primary care (funded by NHS England)


Methodologies and method in the context of signed languages

Social research involving d/Deaf people  inevitably involves encountering a huge diversity of language use and preference that is closely linked to identity and culture. Data are routinely collected in multiple languages (English, BSL), multiple modalities (visual, orthographic, spoken) and by both Deaf and hearing researchers who themselves have a diversity of language use. Theoretical work in this field has centred on the implications for validity and epistemology in qualitative work of this diversity; and issues of translation in the development research instruments. A co-authored text on social science research and d/Deaf people is published by Oxford in 2014.

"Translating the Deaf Self" is a recently completed project with colleagues at Heriot Watt University and funded by the AHRC under their Translating Cultures Theme.  



Methodological knowledge

  • Action Research    
  • Evaluation
  • Qualitative
  • Mixed Methods
  • Social science reserach methodologies and method in the context of sign language users


Research and projects