Connie de Vos

Connie de Vos is the principal investigator of the ELISA project. She was trained as a sign language linguist at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, under the supervision of Prof. Stephen C. Levinson, Prof. Nick Enfield and Prof. Ulrike Zeshan. Her work has been supported by numerous prestigious funding agencies including ELDP, NWO and now ERC. Connie de Vos has longstanding ties with the deaf community in Bengkala going back to 2007. She set up a deaf unit in collaboration with local authorities, which has since come to service deaf children in the wider area of Buleleng. She is a hearing researcher with professional fluency in multiple sign languages, including Kata Kolok, and has worked with deaf community members as language informants and research assistants. Their contribution has been vital in documenting Kata Kolok signing varieties as used by both adult and child signers. 

Photo of Connie de Vos

Josefina Safar 

Josefina Safar works as a postdoc in the ELISA project and focuses on the sub-project The social lives of homesigners. Josefina is a sign language linguist who is interested in sign language emergence, evolution and variation as well as the interface between gesture and sign. During her PhD at Stockholm University, she documented sign languages in Yucatec Maya communities with a high incidence of deafness in Yucatán, Mexico. In the course of her PhD fieldwork, Josefina collaborated closely with deaf and hearing research assistants from the Yucatec Maya communities. She also worked as a visiting researcher at Victoria University of Wellington in a project about sociolinguistic variation in New Zealand Sign Language. Josefina is a hearing signer and apart from Yucatec Maya Sign Language, she can communicate in Swedish Sign Language, Austrian Sign Language and International Sign.

Photo of Josefina Safar

Door Spruijt

Door Spruijt is a PhD student in the ELISA project working on the sub-project The emergence of language in six generations. Door is a sign language linguist primarily interested in typology and descriptive linguistics, but has in recent years been introduced to the field of (sign) language emergence and evolution. Her linguistics studies have taken place at the University of Amsterdam, where she completed both a bachelor and master in Sign Linguistics. Prior to that, she trained to be a teacher of Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). Door is a hearing signer who is fluent in NGT and can communicate in International Sign, and hopefully Kata Kolok in the future.

Door Spruijt

Danielle Naegeli

Danielle Naegeli is a PhD student in the ELISA project. In her sub-project, she experimentally tests the role of social mechanism in sign language emergence using the silent gesture paradigm with hearing participants. Danielle’s interests lie in the mechanisms of cultural evolution of language. She completed her master’s degree in Evolution of Language and Cognition at the Centre for Language Evolution at the University of Edinburgh. Subsequently, she gathered experience with silent gesture experiments working as a research assistant on an ESRC project on word order conventionalisation in Edinburgh. Danielle is a hearing researcher with a basic understanding of British Sign Language.

Photo of Danielle Naegeli

Ketut Kanta

Since 1993 and onwards, Ketut Kanta, or usually called Om Kanta, has assisted in many research projects in Bengkala, Bali. Together with I Gede Marsaja, he participated in the Sign Language Project led by Ulrike Zeshan at the Max Planck Institute in 2006. He also helped Connie de Vos collecting data for her dissertation between 2008 and 2010. Additionally, he also assisted her and Hannah Lutzenberger with the collection of the child signing data from 2016 onward. Currently, he is part of the ELISA’s team and plays an important role as a local guide and interpreter. His goal is to continue to help Bengkala to develop. Click here to watch the profile video of Ketut Kanta.

Photo of Ketut Kanta

Ni Made Dadi Astini

Dadi is the deaf local assistant research in ELISA team. Right now, she is teaching deaf students at the inclusive deaf school in Bengkala. She was first introduced to practical and technical field research in 2010 with Connie de Vos. She also teamed up with Sumarni to help Hannah Lutzenberger to collect the data for her dissertation. Click here to watch the profile video of Ni Made Dadi Astini.

Photo of Ni Made Dadi Astini

Ni Made Sumarni

Ni Made Sumarni began to learn how to record videos to help Hannah Lutzenberger for her dissertation in 2017. Now, at the age of 21 years old, Sumarni is part of the ELISA team as deaf local assistant research. Click here to watch the profile video of Ni Made Sumarni.

Photo of Ni Made Sumarni


I Gede Primantara

I Gede Primantara is originally from Bengkala. He has a bachelor of education from the Ganesha University of Education. He is currently undertaking a Master of Education at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. For the ELISA project, he recruits hearing Balinese people with no knowledge of any sign language to participate in silent gesture experiments. Under the supervision of Danielle Naegeli he coordinates data collection in Bali.

I Gede Primantara


Satyawati works as a local research assistant for the ELISA project. In 2018, she started learning Denpasar Sign Language and later developed her skills in sign language interpreting. In the last three years, Satyawati has carried out interpreting assignments on various occasions. In addition, she has built good relations with the local Deaf community in Bali. She completed her master’s degree at Universitas Udayana and her thesis discusses the structure of written text produced by Deaf individuals in messenger chat.

Photo of Satyawati