About us

The READY Study is led by the Social Research with Deaf People group (SORD) at The University of Manchester in collaboration with the Scottish Sensory Centre at The University of Edinburgh. Our research is funded by The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).

Taking part

If you want to join The READY Study, please complete this survey to know if you can take part.

Social Research with Deaf People, SORD
The University of Manchester

The SORD (Social Research with Deaf People) team at The University of Manchester work with the Deaf community and other stakeholders to promote the wellbeing of deaf individuals, families and communities across the course of their life through high quality, multi-disciplinary applied social research.

The University of Edinburgh

The School of Education at The University of Edinburgh provides teacher of the deaf training and is well known for its research in deaf education. Its involvement with the READY study is in collaboration with the Scottish Sensory Centre (SSC), The University of Edinburgh.

National Deaf Children’s Society

The National Deaf Children’s Society is a leading charity supporting young deaf people to overcome barriers to independence. This is done through providing services and campaigning to transform the lives of young deaf people.

“At the National Deaf Children’s Society, we try very hard to make sure everything is done based on evidence, but there are major gaps in the information on deaf young people’s outcomes when they leave school and enter into further study and/or employment. We commissioned The READY Study to better understand the barriers and drivers to deaf young people achieving their potential and will be able to use this information to support them more effectively. We are delighted to be working with The University of Manchester and The University of Edinburgh on this milestone project.”

Susan Daniels, Chief Executive
National Deaf Children’s Society

Our people

Research team

Alys Young

I am social scientist who has worked in sign language and deafness for the past 30 years. I have a special interest in applied health and social studies and many of my projects have focussed on quality of life and better services for deaf children and adults. I convene the Social research with Deaf people group (SORD) at the University of Manchester where I am also Professor of Social Work. I am also distinguished visiting professor at the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Over the past ten years SORD has been awarded over £10m in research funding and I have held grants from AHRC, ESRC, MRC, NIHR, GCRF and many non-governmental research bodies.

I was conferred FAcSS in 2015 (Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences) in recognition of my thought leadership in this field and in 2016 I won the Times Higher Education National Award as Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year. I remain a qualified and registered social worker.

Professor Alys Young is the Principal Investigator for The Ready Study.

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Rachel O'Neill

I worked as a teacher of deaf students in secondary and further education for 25 years, before moving to the University of Edinburgh as a lecturer in deaf education. Currently I teach on the MSc Inclusive Education course, being responsible for the deaf education pathway; this means I am responsible for the course that teaches teachers of deaf children for Scotland.

My research has included a study on the achievements of deaf pupils in Scotland, analysing the views of young deaf people about their education. I have also researched views about the British Sign Language Glossary of curriculum terms, and parents living on a low income bringing up deaf children. I supervise students doing dissertations on deaf education topics. I am also involved with a research to practice centre based in the School of Education, the Scottish Sensory Centre. I am the UK editor for Deafness and Education International.

Rachel O’Neill is Co-investigator in The Ready Study.

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Claire Dodds

I am a PhD student and joint Project Coordinator for The Ready Study. After graduating from the University of Oxford, I travelled extensively for several years. I became interested in deaf people and signed languages whilst working at a school for deaf children in New Zealand. On my return to the UK, I trained as a British Sign Language/English interpreter, qualifying in 2004. As an interpreter, I specialised in Higher Education settings and eventually found myself drawn back to academia, taking up a research post at the University of Manchester in 2015, where I have been involved in several projects and consultations. In 2018 I was awarded an MRes in Health and Social Care with distinction and secured a part-time PhD studentship funded by the National Deaf Children’s Society as part of the READY study.

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Helen Chilton

I am a Lecturer in Deaf Education at The University of Manchester. In my role at Manchester I lead the Deaf Education programmes and teach mainstream teachers to become Teachers of the Deaf. I have a background in teaching deaf learners who use spoken English and British Sign Language. My work in the University has also included research with deaf children and young people and those who teach them.

Most of my research up to now has considered how deaf children and young people understand the thoughts and feelings of others. I recently led a project about deaf children’s writing which considered how deaf children are able to write about characters’ thoughts and emotions. I am delighted to be part of the READY project and I am really looking forward to understanding more about the outcomes for young deaf people after leaving school. I hope the READY project will help to improve opportunities for young deaf people.

Dr. Helen Chilton is a co-investigator in The READY Study.

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Garry Squires

I am a Senior Lecturer in educational psychology, special educational needs and inclusion. I am also a registered educational psychologist. My research interests include special educational needs, mental health, inclusion, professional educational psychology practice, the use of data in educational systems, dyslexia, cognitive behavioural therapy, therapeutic approaches in education, and evaluating school based interventions and programmes.
I am actively involved in the British Psychological Society. I have been a member of accreditation teams for initial training of psychologists for the Psychological Society of Ireland and the British Psychological Society. I was a member of the DECP working party for Delivering Psychological Therapies in Schools and Communities. I am currently the Chair of the National Award Committee for the EuroPsy qualification. My interest in this project follows on from being a co-investigator in a study to identify effective practice in the provision of education and education support services for 16 -19 year old deaf people in further education in England.

Dr Garry Squires is co-investigator in The Ready Study.

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John Ravenscroft

Professor John Ravenscroft is Chair of Childhood Visual Impairment at The University of Edinburgh.




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Katherine Rogers


I am a Research Fellow and I have been involved in the Social Research with Deaf people (SORD) group at the University of Manchester since 2006. I have completed a Doctoral Research Fellowship, funded by the National Institute for Health Research. My research interests primarily involve issues pertaining to Deaf communities and their families, especially those which promote more positive outcomes. Examples of research projects where I’ve been part include Deaf role models, the mental well-being of d/Deaf people, evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of BSL IAPT, and the validation of standardised psychometric instruments with d/Deaf populations.

Dr. Katherine Rogers is co-investigator and Research Fellow in The READY Study.

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Francisco Espinoza

I am a social scientist with experience in academy and government. My background in sociology and political science has led me to participate in applied social research through its different stages and domains.

Whilst in the UK, I have participated in Social Research with Deaf People (SORD) projects since 2018 when I joined the team working at the “Translated Deaf Self”. I feel encouraged by taking part of this extensive project, and I am certain the research outcomes of The READY Study will provide information for a better understanding of the lives of young deaf people.

Amy Szarkowski

Portrait of Amy SzarkowskiI am a psychologist who has worked with, alongside, and in support children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families for more than two decades. Earlier in my career, I was mostly involved in providing direct services as a psychologist – through counseling and psychological assessment. More recently, I have shifted toward engaging in research and applied projects in support of this population, including children who are deaf with disabilities.

I serve as the Director for The Institute, housed in Beverly, Massachusetts, USA. At The Institute, we aim to generate and disseminate transformational ideas and practices that make a positive impact on individuals who are deaf or deaf with disabilities, and the professionals who engage with them.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with the outstanding group of scholars and contributors involved in the READY study.

Visit Amy’s research profile

Young co-enquirers

Jack Andrews

Jack Andrews -  - Profile photoI am 24 years old. I grew up in the north-east of England and went to a school for the deaf in Boston Spa. I was born profoundly deaf and had a cochlear implant when I was 2 years old. I was the 100th patient in the hospital ever to have an implant and my photograph was in the newspaper.

I graduated from college with a Business qualification and since then have worked in many different sectors, from my local supermarket to the Royal Mail and as a Medical Lab Assistant for the NHS. I currently work at the Home Office as a civil servant and I really enjoy my job; it is very accessible and my employers really respect diversity and treat everyone equally. I have a keen interest in business and would love to have my own business one day.

As a deaf person, I have always faced communication barriers, especially in employment and education. I enrolled on a BA in Computer and Digital Forensics in 2018 but didn’t complete the course due to accessibility issues. I feel that there is a lot of work to be done in society for disabled people to have equal access to study and work. I joined the READY project as I feel it is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges that young deaf people face in the world today.

Catherine Bent

I am a graduate of Nottingham Trent University in 2016, in Multimedia which I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing. I was taught in many different areas, such as camera operating, directing, video editing, sound editing, interviewing, graphic designing, photography and a bit of marketing. This experience has given me insight to the competitive market in multimedia out there, which drives me to thrive to succeed in my future career. The only boundary I find difficult is the communication barrier, which is unfortunate, but knowing that there is endless support, I know that I can succeed and achieve what I want to achieve and it will be a long journey but worth the hard work.

Kieran Gemmell

Photo of Kieran GemmellMy name is Kieran Gemmell, I’m deaf and 25 years old. I work as a teacher of the deaf and teach deaf primary aged children. I love going on nature walks and exploring new places.

I’m currently working as a teacher of the deaf, teaching and supporting primary aged deaf children. I’m about to start an education course at Edinburgh University – Inclusive practice course for deaf learners.

I’m very excited to be part of the READY study – I can’t wait to hear about the life experiences of so many deaf young people.

Tomas Gerrard

Tomas Gerrard - Profile photoHello! I am a 24-year-old Psychology with Criminology graduate from Nottingham Trent University. I am a native BSL user with spoken English too. I have had hearing aids in both ears since I was very young. I grew up amid a large deaf family while navigating my own primary and secondary education in a mainstream environment before undertaking my A-Levels at Mary Hare Sixth Form. I have a nice mixture of friends whom I communicate with in either BSL or Spoken English as a result of my academic journey. I consider myself to be very fortunate to have such a healthy mix.

I do not have a firm profession or career; I am working and volunteering on several different opportunities to try make sense of my next step! Working as a part of the young co-enquirers team is my most exciting opportunity yet as this is my chance to be involved in something that will directly benefit the lives of young deaf people in the UK whilst working with some very talented people.

If I am not working, there is a good chance you might see me out and about with my friends doing all sorts but there is an even better chance that you will see me indoors hunched over a board game or hiding behind a thrilling book!

Eve Lister

Me in a nutshell: I am 27 years old, born and raised in Shropshire where I was educated in my local mainstream schools. Profoundly deaf from birth, I was assessed for a hearing aid at the age of 3 months. This was changed to a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) when I was five and a half, this was when I began to make real progress in speaking and listening. Throughout my primary and secondary education, I have been supported by a Teacher of the Deaf, two exceptional Teaching Assistants and great parents. 

I gained 9 GCSE’S grades A*to C and 3 A levels. The support was given by the A level tutors in one to one sessions and TofD.

I have a 2:1 BA Hons. in Interior Architecture & Design from Nottingham Trent University. I had note takers for lectures, additional time for exams and tutorials. As part of the degree, I worked in an Architects practice for my third year, this was a valuable experience.

On leaving University, I worked as Junior Designer for an Exhibition design company for 3 years.

I have been a committee member of Shropshire Deaf Children’s Society (SDCS).

Although, I have always exploited my residual hearing to great effect and communicated orally; I have met other deaf people who signed and so I completed Level 1 BSL so I could communicate with them. I thoroughly enjoyed learning this skill and would like to continue to the next level soon.

Naomi Whitley

Naomi Whitley - Portrait photographI am a first-year student at Worcester University, currently studying for a joint degree in Fine Art with Psychology. Having spent my high school years at Mare Hare School for the Deaf, I have only recently stepped out of my deaf ‘bubble’ into the hearing world.

While I have found it hard at times to access everything that the Uni has to offer, with the help of my peers, lecturers and specialist support I am finding it much easier now and am very much enjoying my course.

I wanted to join this study as I feel that the research is important in helping other young deaf people who might be going through the same struggles that I have experienced. I am also looking forward to improving my research skills, which will definitely help with my Psychology studies.

Former members

Christine Mackintosh

Christine Mackintosh is a PhD student at The University of Edinburgh. 

Rita Giacoppo

I have a master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Messina in Italy with a thesis exploring the development and relationships within which deaf children grow up with. The thesis focused on language, education, and in particular on family and the challenge of being born deaf from hearing parents. My background has mainly been focused on cognitive behavioural therapy, developmental psychology and learning disabilities.
I have experience of working with children, teenagers and young adults with autism, ADHD, down syndrome, psychosis, severe anxiety, depression, language difficulties, selective mutism, challenging behaviour, hearing/visual impairment and older people with dementia.
My interests include deafness, autism, languages, culture diversity, special educational needs, mental wellbeing, and IAPT.
I feel honoured to have the opportunity to be involved in the READY study where I am an Intern Research Assistant. I am looking forward to learning more about what can make a positive difference to the pathway from childhood to adulthood for young deaf people.

Rohita Nandipati

I am a volunteer on the READY project based at the University of Edinburgh. I contribute to the project by ringing careers services and audiology clinics and doing mail outs of leaflets and posters. I work closely with Chris and Rachel and I’m based in the Scottish Sensory Centre in the School of Education and Sport. The opportunity to volunteer gives me practice with talking on the phone to professionals working in a wide range of agencies.

I am an MSc student in Human Resource Management at the University of Edinburgh. Being part of the READY project has given me an insight into the lives of deaf young people, which I think will be useful in future when I work in HR.