The developing pre-literacy skills of children with hearing loss.

The developing pre-literacy skills of children with hearing loss.

First Author: Megan Gilliver -- National Acoustic Laboratories
Keywords: Deaf/Hard of Hearing, preliteracy skills, Preschool, Intervention, Phonological awareness
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Despite continuing advances in hearing rehabilitation devices and services, children with hearing loss (HL) often display poorer literacy outcomes, including poorer performance on phonological awareness (PA) tasks, than their peers without hearing loss. The aim of this study was to better understanding the similarities and differences in the development of pre-literacy skills for children with and without HL to inform effective intervention. Of particular interest is understanding whether the relationships between developing PA and other language and cognitive skill differs for the two populations.
Method: Data is presented from over 50 pre-school aged children with HL (with access to spoken English), participating in a series of PA intervention studies. Participants were assessed on measures of vocabulary, cognition, and letter knowledge, as well as phonological awareness before and after intervention. A subset of participants, were also matched on non-verbal IQ and vocabulary to fifteen children with no known hearing loss who participated in a related study.
Results: Participants’ performance on tasks assessing individual PA skills showed a pattern of hierarchical development, similar to that previously shown for children without hearing loss. When participants were matched to children without hearing loss, PA development was not found to be significantly different between the two groups, with both showing similar response to intervention.
Conclusions: The results suggest that for many children with HL, PA development may not qualitatively differ from those with normal hearing, and thus may benefit from similar instructional strategies. However, the frequently reported poor language skills of children with HL mean that they, as a group, are disproportionately more likely to experience poor phonological skills. As such, this group continue to have a strong need for intervention, in order to achieve reading success