Sighted Infants of Blind Parents


Who is conducting the study?

The Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London (Professor Mark Johnson, Dr Atsushi Senju, Ms Leslie Tucker), with support from the RNIB.

Who approves and funds the study?

The School of Psychology Ethics Committee of Birkbeck, University of London has granted ethical approval for the study. We have also consulted with a research officer at the Royal National Institute of Blind People regarding the details of the study. The study is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. Our centre is also funded by the UK Medical Research Council.

What does the study involve?

Families who agree to take part in the study are invited to visit the Babylab in central London on one or more occasions. Accompanied by their parents, the babies take part in tasks designed to be fun and stimulating for them. Further details about particular tasks can be found in the Details of the Study page.

I would like to find out more about travel arrangements.

The study will be conducted in our Babylab, in central London (WC1) on a date that is convenient for you. We will always cover your travel expenses when you come to the Babylab.  We can provide door-to-door taxi service if you live in London.  If you decide to travel to the Babylab by private car we reserve a parking space outside our building for visiting parents. Upon your arrival, please ring us from inside the car. Then our staff will come to you, open the door and guide you to the Babylab. We reimburse all your travel costs and other expenses directly related to the visit, such as lunch.  We will also donate £30 worth of gift vouchers to you for compensation for your participation.

Can I participate if I do not live in the London area?

Yes!  If you live far from the Babylab and have to travel into London, we will provide accommodation at a nearby hotel. We will customise travel plans that are convenient for your needs, including a taxi service between railway terminals in London and our Babylab. Our team can also meet you at the train station.

Where is the Babylab located?

We are located in the Bloomsbury area of Central London. The closest mainline station is Euston and we are near Russell Square, Euston Square, and Goodge Street underground stations. The Babylab is in the Henry Wellcome Building, adjacent to number 28 Woburn Square, WC1H 0AA. The entrance to our building is on the footpath between Woburn Square and Torrington Square. Click here for a map showing the location of the Babylab.

Can I bring my other children to the Babylab?

You are more than welcome to bring other siblings – we’re always pleased to take time out to entertain!  We have space for them to play and can arrange for someone to sit with them whilst you and your baby complete the tasks in another room.  However, we do ask that you let us know in advance if you are bringing anyone else, so that we can make the necessary arrangements.

What are the potential benefits of the study?

We hope that the knowledge we obtain from the study will provide us with a better understanding of how infants with blind parents develop the skills for social communication. Moreover, we hope this study will tell us about the development of the infant brain, which adapts to their social environment and develops the skills to process and respond to the physical and social world, which is necessary for their life. Because the study looks at infants with blind parents as a group and compares the group data with another group of infants with sighted parents, we will not be able to give you any feedback or advice on the basis of your child’s individual results.  We will, however, take the time to answer any questions you may have.

How can I find out about the results of the study?

We will send you our annual newsletter with updates on the progress of the study. Furthermore, we are planning to publish the findings of the study in well-renowned scientific journals. These journals are usually available in university libraries or can be obtained from us on request.

Who should I contact if I need more information?

If you are interested in taking part in this study or if you have any questions, please register your baby on-line, email Ms Leslie Tucker or phone the CBCD directly (020 7631 6325, Leslie Tucker).