University of the Free State, Faculty of Humanities (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 12380-12388
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.2600
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Many hearing children are born into a world with rich language input and can master their native language(s) by approximately age five. By contrast, most children who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) enter a world where access to a language is much less certain. Focusing on reading and spelling development and why this is so challenging for DHH learners, the researcher argues that reading and spelling require two related but separable capabilities, namely familiarity with a language and an understanding of the mapping between that language and the printed word. Consequently, DHH learners, especially those children who are profoundly deaf, are disadvantaged on both counts.

Furthermore, research has shown that DHH learners' language acquisition challenges also adversely affect their academic performances. Comparative studies between DHH learners and hearing learners further emphasized the reading and spelling delays of DHH learners. In the light of the above, one would therefore expect teachers who are directly involved in the teaching of DHH learners to receive adequate support and guidelines to teach reading and spelling effectively. However, the opposite is true. Several studies have revealed that teachers do not receive adequate support regarding the reading and spelling instruction of DHH learners and, therefore, have to rely mainly on their own experiences. Consequently, the selection of reading and spelling teaching strategies often takes place in a random and unscientific way as many teachers rely on commercial materials designed for hearing learners that often do not lead to authentic reading and spelling outcomes for DHH learners.

This theoretical article will provide background on the major perspectives involving the reading and spelling development of DHH learners. The interplay (or association) between language skills and reading and spelling development will be discussed, including the cognitive functioning of DHH learners during spelling and reading development. The article concludes with essential aspects to consider when selecting reading and spelling strategies for DHH learners and suggestions for research and practice.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) learners, reading and spelling development, language acquisition, cognition, teaching pedagogies.