top of page



The role of vision in the acquisition of words: Vocabulary development in blind toddlers

Erin E. Campbell, Robyn Casillas, Elika Bergelson

Home Literacy Practices for Young Children With Cochlear Implants

Erin E. Campbell, Deborah Bervinchak, Jean DesJardin, Kristin Ceh, Kathleen Lehnert,   Deborah Grammer, and Howard W. Francis

Making sense of sensory language: Acquisition of sensory knowledge by individuals with congenital sensory impairments

Erin Campbell & Elika Bergelson (2022)

The present article provides a narrative review on how language communicates sensory information and how knowledge of sight and sound develops in individuals born deaf or blind. Studying knowledge of the perceptually inaccessible sensory domain for these populations offers a lens into how humans learn about that which they cannot perceive. We first review the linguistic strategies within language that communicate sensory information. Highlighting the power of language to shape knowledge, we next review the detailed knowledge of sensory information by individuals with congenital sensory impairments, limitations therein, and neural representations of imperceptible phenomena. We suggest that the acquisition of sensory knowledge is supported by language, experience with multiple perceptual domains, and cognitive and social abilities which mature over the first years of life, both in individuals with and without sensory impairment. We conclude by proposing a developmental trajectory for acquiring sensory knowledge in the absence of sensory perception.

Characterizing North Carolina’s Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Infants and Toddlers: Predictors of Vocabulary, Diagnosis, and Intervention

Erin Campbell & Elika Bergelson (2022)

Purpose: This study sought to (a) characterize the demographic, audiological, and intervention variability in a population of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) children receiving state services for hearing loss; (b) identify predictors of vocabulary delays; and (c) evaluate factors influencing the success and timing of early identification and intervention efforts at a state level.

Method: One hundred DHH infants and toddlers (aged 4–36 months) enrolled in early intervention completed the MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventories, and detailed information about their audiological and clinical history was collected. We examined the influence of demographic, clinical, and audiological factors on vocabulary outcomes and early intervention efforts.

Results: We found that this sample showed spoken language vocabulary delays (production) relative to hearing peers and showed room for improvement in rates of early diagnosis and intervention. These delays in vocabulary and early support services were predicted by an overlapping subset of hearing-, health-, and home-related variables.

Conclusions: In a diverse sample of DHH children receiving early intervention, we identify variables that predict delays in vocabulary and early support services, which reflected both dimensions that are immutable, and those that clinicians and caretakers can potentially alter. We provide a discussion on the implications for clinical practice.

Supplemental Material:

Effect of Dysphonia and Cognitive-Perceptual Listener Strategies on Speech Intelligibility

Connie K. Porcaro, Paul M. Evitts, Nicole King, Cassandra Hood, Erin Campbell, Layla White, & Jacqueline Veraguas (2019)

Child talking into a microphone



A cross-linguistic analysis of abstractness effects in early vocabulary

Erin Campbell, Charles P. Davis, & Naomi Caselli

March 2024 - Cognitive Development Society biennial meeting

Screenshot 2024-03-21 at 11.42.57 AM.png

Tailoring ASL Support for Deaf Children: Demographic Patterns and Language Outcomes

Erin Campbell & Naomi Caselli (with co-presenter Abigail Laughman!)

March 2024 - Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) conference

Screenshot 2024-03-21 at 11.29.25 AM.png

Comparing language input in homes of blind and sighted children: Insights from daylong recordings

Erin Campbell, Lillianna Righter, Eugenia Lukin, Elika Bergelson

November 2023 - Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD)

October 2023 - Many Paths to Language (MPAL)

Comparing utterance composition and conversational content in everyday language input to blind and sighted toddlers.

Eugenia Lukin, Erin Campbell, Lillianna Righter, Elika Bergelson

November 2023 - Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD)

October 2023 - Many Paths to Language (MPAL)

The Interdependence of Vocabulary & Morphosyntax Development in Blind and Sighted Children

Lillianna Righter, Erin Campbell, Eugenia Lukin, & Elika Bergelson

October 2023 - Many Paths to Language (MPAL)

Screenshot 2024-03-21 at 10.55.32 AM.png

Acquisition of Perceptual Words by Young Children with Congenital Sensory Impairments

Erin Campbell, Molly Cooke, Derek Houston, & Elika Bergelson

November 2022 - Boston University Conference on Language Development

Screen Shot 2022-11-05 at 11.36.48 PM.png

Vocabulary Development in Blind Infants and Toddlers: The influence of vision on early vocabulary

Erin Campbell & Elika Bergelson

June 2022 - Workshop on Infant Language Development

Shareable WILDtalk2022.png

The Neural Substrates of Word-Learning in 14-20-month-olds: A Replication and Extension

Carla B. Fernandez, Erin Campbell, Matthew Bachman, Marty G. Woldorff, Elika Bergelson

July 2021 - International Association for the Study of Child Language

P288_Fernandez_The neural substrates of word-learning in 14-20-month-olds.tiff

The Impact of Parental Reading Behaviors on Early Literacy in Children with Cochlear Implants

Erin Campbell, Deborah Bervinchak, Kristin Ceh, Kathleen Lehnert, Deborah Grammer, Howard Francis

April 2021 - CI2021: Cochlear Implants in Children and Adults


Early Language in Blind, Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing, and Typically-Developing Infants

Erin Campbell, Martin Zettersten, Molly Lewis, Elika Bergelson

April 2021 - Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting

Naturalistic Language Input to Blind, Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing, and Typically-Developing Infants: A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis

Erin Campbell, Sarp Uner, Elika Bergelson

October 2020 - Many Paths to Language

Early Vocabulary and Hearing Loss: Who's Getting State Services?

Erin Campbell & Elika Bergelson

October 2019 - Boston University Conference on Language Development


University-Community Partnerships: How Can Universities and Community Schools Support Each Other?

Jessica Shiller, S. England, ​Erin Campbell, Maya Berman

May 2018 - Workshop Session: National Community Schools Forum

Effect of Listener Strategies on Speech Intelligibility of Dysphonic Speakers

Connie K Porcaro, Paul M Evitts, Nicole Smyth, Cassandra Hood, Erin Campbell, Layla White, Jacqueline Veraguas

November 2017 - Poster: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention

Ongoing Projects

Brain Activity and Word Recognition

By placing electrodes on the head, we can measure the electrical activity in the brain while babies listen to different types of words. This technique lets us infer which words babies know (known words elicit a larger neural response than unfamiliar words). In this study, infants sit on their parent's lap and listen to three types of words: familiar words (like cat or book), mispronunciations (like gat or dook), and fake words (like neem or kobe). We test how infants' response to mispronunciations changes over time.

Exploring the Development of Word Knowledge in Children

In this experiment, we’re testing how 9-24-month-olds respond to mispronunciations and to words that are similar to each other in meaning. We measure this by showing children two images (like a dog and cat, or dog and cookie), asking “where’s the dog?”, and tracking children’s eye movements between the two pictures. As children mature, we think that their knowledge of words’ sounds and meanings gets increasingly specific. 

Measuring Language Input to Blind Infants and Toddlers

How do children learn words from the world around them? Do children who are exposed to certain types of language input say more words? And does the relationship between language input and language outcomes differ based on the child’s vision?

To measure language input, children wear tiny recorders, which are tucked inside of a vest. This allows researchers to capture the language and sound environment around the child. This study can be joined from anywhere in the United States. 

What senses do we associate with words?

When we hear a word like "apple", we might be reminded of the red, glossy look of an apple; the wet crunch of biting into an apple; internal sensations of joy or hunger; or the sweet, tart taste of an apple. The exact mental associations brought to mind by "apple" might differ person-to-person, since we all have a different set of experiences. In this study, we're investigating which senses are brought to mind by different words. We're currently recruiting adults who identify as d/Deaf, blind, or DeafBlind to participate in this online research study,  which can be completed from anywhere in the United States. 

Information for Families


During this study, your child would sit on your lap, and look at a screen with pictures while listening to words (for example "Where is the book?"). We would then measure where your child looks on the screen.


EEG (Electroencephalography)

When brain cells send signals to each other, small amounts of electricity are released. EEG measures the electrical activity in the brain. Our lab uses that a set of sensory that fit on the head like a swim cap.  Each sensor is then filled with salty gel. During the experiment, your child would sit on your lap and listen to a set of words while wearing the sensors. We can then take the average of the electrical activity after each word to figure out the average brain response to different types of words.


This study involves answering questions about the words that your child understands or says. You'll also be asked about your child's hearing and vision, as well as basic demographic information. Surveys can be completed online, from home.

bottom of page