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Deaf and Hard of Hearing Reading Project

We are conducting a study examining the brain mechanisms used by readers who are deaf and hard of hearing! Our goal is to provide a foundation for future research that will develop reading interventions for these children!


Find out if your child is eligible to participate by completing this short questionnaire!

Click here to learn about our project in American Sign Language and English!


Project Description:

We study how children’s brains process written language; this includes deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing children. We use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure brain structure and activity. fMRI is safe and non-invasive (there is NOT radiation like with X-ray).


Why Participate:

  • Taking part in this study may help scientists better understand how children learn to read, and the mechanisms that support reading development in hearing, deaf and hard of hearing children.
  • Children who participate receive a picture of their brain to take home with them.
  • Participants who enroll in this study receive payment to compensate them for their participation.
  • Parents may elect to receive a report with results of their child’s standardized testing results.


Who is invited?

Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing children ages 10-17 years old.

Children CANNOT participate in MRI studies if they:

  • Have any metal in the body (including cochlear implants, some dental work is acceptable)
  • Have history of premature birth (before 34 weeks), uncorrected visual impairment, psychiatric disorders (excluding ADHD), or neurological disease
  • Are claustrophobic


What to expect:

  • Multiple sessions at the Brain Development Lab
  • Play interactive learning games
  • Standardized tests
  • Experience a mock MRI and a real MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)



Families will receive compensation for participating as well as their child’s test scores and a picture of their brain. Parents will also be paid for travel expenses and accommodations (airfare, hotel, etc.) for those who must drive a long way or fly to Nashville!


About Our Staff

Our staff includes individuals who have deaf culture and sign language experience. Those who use American Sign Language to communicate will have one or more of our staff members present at each session.

Visits can be scheduled during the day, after school, or on weekends. For the visits, a legal parent or guardian must be present so we can better introduce the study and have you sign consent forms for your child. All the data provided by your child will remain confidential. No child will be identified by name in any reports of this study.


If you are interested in enrolling your child or would like more information, please contact us via email, 615-875-1667 (voice), 615-274-9598 (video phone)!