Who We Are

Founded in 1935 and located in New Haven, Connecticut since 1970, Haskins Laboratories is a private, non-profit research institute with a primary focus on speech, language and reading, and their biological basis. Support for our work comes mostly from federally funded, competitive research grants. This is supplemented by private foundation support and individual donations.

Haskins Laboratories has long-standing, formal affiliations with the University of Connecticut and Yale University. We are also actively engaged in collaborations and partnerships, both formal and informal, with other institutions, groups, and individuals around the world.

At the heart of Haskins Laboratories are the people who comprise the Haskins community, including staff, scientists, educators, and students. The Laboratories employs a small full-time staff, half of whom are investigators and half of whom are in technical and administrative roles. In addition, the Laboratories' staff includes part-time investigators, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students from a variety of institutions.

Most people take language for granted. Speech, after all, defines us as human beings, while literacy is the foundation of modern civilization. Yet the relationship between speech and literacy is anything but simple. Although talking and understanding what others say comes naturally to every healthy child, many individuals as well as entire societies do not read or write. How do we acquire, produce and understand speech, which is our birthright by biological evolution? How do we achieve literacy, which is a cultural artifact? What bridges these dual domains of language? Exploring such questions opens a window on the inner workings of the mind.

Answering these fascinating questions is of more than scientific interest to those who cannot take language for granted. Disorders, disease and trauma impair some people's ability to speak and/or understand the speech of others. Disabilities and inadequate education prevent many more from learning to read or write. The science of the spoken and the written word promises to help these people participate more fully in their humanity and our society.

The Haskins Laboratories has been at the forefront of this research for more than sixty years. It is the nation's leading multidisciplinary community of scientists studying speech, language and reading. Its theoretical and technological breakthroughs are continually advancing the science of the spoken and the written word, and the practical applications of its discoveries are improving human communication.

THEORETICAL AND TECHNICAL INNOVATION

Haskins Laboratories has a long history of technological and theoretical innovation, from creating the rules for speech synthesis and the first working prototype of a reading machine for the blind to developing the landmark concept of phonemic awareness as a critical preparation for learning to read. Its record of achievement, past and present, is compelling evidence that it will continue to conduct cutting-edge research in the future.

INDEPENDENT / INTERDISCIPLINARY

Haskins Laboratories enjoys a distinct advantage as an independent research center. Crossing the boundaries of universities as well as disciplines, it has created a critical mass of full-time and visiting psychologists, linguists, physicists, engineers and other specialists who share information and insights and frequently collaborate as they study important problems such as speech synthesis and dyslexia that are too complex for research conducted from a single perspective ever to resolve.

THE INTEGRITY OF HARD SCIENCE

Throughout its history, Haskins Laboratories has been dedicated to fundamental research and innovation, from developing the first interactive software replicating the interplay of the tongue, lips and palate in human speech to using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to study blood flow in the brain as a child reads. These objective research approaches, which Haskins scientists pursue wherever they lead, give the work of the Haskins Laboratories special credibility at a time when controversy surrounds many issues concerning language and reading.

MEETING A NATIONAL CRISIS

Nothing illustrates the importance and utility of the Haskins Laboratories' research more dramatically than its national leadership in developing effective, science-based methods of teaching reading and treating reading disabilities. Currently only a third of American eighth-graders read proficiently and as many as 20 percent of all schoolchildren suffer from reading disabilities. Haskins Laboratories is drawing on decades of research and the accumulating scientific evidence to help meet this crisis in American education.

 

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