Blog: Successful close to 2019 BRC after-hours events

BRC Operations Manager Dr Sarah Watters reflects on the third BRC after-hours event in this blog.

December saw the third and final BRC ‘Lates’ event of 2019, on the theme of deafness and hearing. The event series is organised by the BRC in collaboration with UCL Special Collections, where attendees hear a trio of scientifically linked talks around a BRC theme and are also able to explore UCL’s unique collection of rare books, archives and manuscripts.

This sell-out event was compered by Prof Jonathan Gale, Director of the UCL Ear Institute and included talks from Prof David Kemp, Prof Bencie Woll and Dr Peter Keating who explored the theme of deafness and hearing loss from changing the shape of testing hearing in babies, to explaining the history of sign language and British Sign Language (BSL) and what is new in the world of research into adapting to hearing loss.

In general, people enjoyed the range of presentations over the evening and loved looking at the books. On display were several items including an original edition of Chirologia: or The naturall language of the hand. One of only 31 known copies, Chirologia – ‘hand discourse’ – was the first book in English that was devoted to the language of sign and gesture. Event attendees also had a chance to see a French-language book published in Paris between 1799 and 1800 which set out an extremely rare (possibly unique) alphabet for the deaf: Alphabet, Manuel-Figure des Sourds-Muets de Naissance.

In total 49 people were in attendance. Feedback included:


"I loved the variety of the topics and speakers"

"Totally fresh thoughts in an area I thought I was familiar with"

"I enjoyed the topics, looking at the artefacts, the knowledge shared by all, the accessibility"

"All the talks were very interesting and informative and although I am not an expert (just a member of the public with some hearing loss!!) I found them all easy to understand and they made me want to follow up on the subjects."

We hope to bring these events back in 2020! So keep your eyes and ears peeled.


We also encourage you to check out an engaging section of UCL’s website dedicated to the history of British Sign Language – with videos and worksheets. It can be accessed here.


Dr Keating also has some demonstrations of unilateral hearing loss on his website (