Dr. Naomi Caselli to Join Faculty in Fall 2015

Caselli_croppedNaomi Caselli completed a joint PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Tufts University. In her dissertation she examined the lasting effects of early language experiences on sign perception. She earned an MA in Psychology and an EdM in Deaf Education at Boston University, and a BA in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Deaf Studies at The Evergreen State College.

Dr. Caselli’s work explores the ways that early sign language experience can affect cognitive outcomes for Deaf children. Her recent work focuses on how signs are perceived in sign language, and how sign perception is affected by impoverished exposure to sign language during childhood. She is currently working to develop ASL-LEX, an interactive database for researchers, teachers, and students, that catalogues more than forty properties of thousands of signs in American Sign Language.

Dr. Caselli is part of a team at Tufts University that discovered a brand-new sign language, Central Taurus Sign Language (CTSL), that has emerged where a high concentration of Deaf people live in a secluded mountainous village in Turkey. She is leveraging this rare opportunity to understand the human capacity for language and to learn how a lexicon is built from scratch. Dr. Caselli also collaborates with researchers at MIT and Wellesley College to look at the neural consequences of language deprivation on social reasoning in Deaf children.

Dr. Caselli worked as a nationally certified ASL-English interpreter for ten years, where she specialized in higher education and k-12 interpreting. She served as a member and interim chair of the Certification Committee for the national professional organization for sign language interpreters, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. In this capacity, she has helped to set the standard for sign language interpreters nationwide. She also serves as the co-chair of the Millie Brother Scholarship for hearing children of Deaf parents.