The Engage with Developmental Language Disorder (E-DLD) project, co-founded by Dr Michelle St Clair from Bath’s Department of Psychology, has received a Giving Voice Award from The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT).

RCSLT’s Giving Voice Award celebrates those who have worked to improve the lives of people with communication and/or swallowing needs.

E-DLD was recognised for its work to increase understanding of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), which is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by difficulties in being able to learn, understand and use language.

Amongst other activities, such as public engagement events, the project regularly translates the academic research looking at DLD into accessible summaries, to help improve public awareness and understanding of research into DLD. The project hopes that these summaries will help to increase both Speech and Language Therapists' understanding of DLD, as well as increase understanding of DLD in those most impacted by this condition – parents of children with DLD and adults with DLD.

Dr Michelle St Clair currently oversees the E-DLD project alongside other core team members, including Dr Nicola Botting from City, University of London; Dr Jenny Gibson from the University of Cambridge; and Dr Suze Leitão and Dr Emily Jackson from Curtin University.

Speaking about receiving the award, Dr St Clair said:

We are very humbled and proud to have been awarded the Giving Voice award. We have worked hard to increase the accessibility of DLD research over the past three years and it is great to see our efforts recognised by the RCSLT. We are so pleased to receive this recognition of the impact we are making on people’s lives. We really believe that knowledge is power, but academic research can be so difficult to access for many reasons. It is often behind paywalls and generally we write papers for other academics, not for moms and dads looking to help their children who are struggling. In many ways, we feel we are just getting started and have big plans to increase our engage with the public in the future.

Despite DLD affecting around 1 in 15 people, it is not as well known or well researched as other similar disorders – such as ADHD or autism.

E-DLD is looking to change this. Researchers from a wide range of UK universities are contributing to the project, which aims to both make research more accessible as well as create opportunities for people affected by DLD to contribute to new academic research.

Overall, the project helps to support research into DLD by making recruitment easier, advertising DLD research projects to its E-DLD members directly. This will help improve outcomes for those with the disorder, as increasing our understanding of DLD will help translate to better treatments. The project also works to involve people with DLD in the research process to ensure it is relevant to their needs.