Friday, December 11, 2009

Deaf Children and Literacy

My daughter recently had her three year school evaluation in accordance with IEP elegibility requirements. Yes, she is still deaf. Yes, she still qualifies for an IEP. However, her academic test scores were all at or above grade level, so she only qualified for audiological services, not academic assistance. We were very happy with her progress.

That got me to wondering about reading literacy in general. When we first became involved in the early intervention program, the current data at the time ( ) coming out of Gaulladet showed a 4th grade reading literacy level for Deaf kids graduating high school. This was 10 years ago. I searched the web, and while I found a lot of small studies, with mixed results, there hasn't been a comprehensive overview that I could find since then! I am stunned and saddened that this issue has been so poorly followed up on. I would have thought that every Methodology out there would want to show the world the Holy Grail of performance, which is a high literacy level in the deaf children who follow their method.

I found a lot of studies touting the importance of (fill in the blank) in teaching deaf children how to read. This includes early ASL language acquisition, which I do not dispute. But even Gally does not have current data to show how early ASL helps with higher literacy levels. What does it take to get enough interest in this issue for academic programs to start requiring regular testing and follow up, and then to get it published?

Maybe I am just missing it, or not using the correct search words. If you know of published studies that actually show literacy levels in high school students graduating high school, that is less than 5 years old, I would love to have it. It would be especially helpful if the study showed what specific educational program they used.


Anonymous said...

I've started reading a couple of books that may touch on your question. The entire contents are not all related to reading, but you may find them of interest anyway. One is "Deaf Cognition," edited by Marschark (sp?) and Hauser, and the other is "Language Learning in Deaf Children: Multiple Pathways" by Susan Easterbrooks. If memory serves, Dr. Easterbrooks works at the University of Georgia and conducts research on reading and deaf children. You could give her a Google Scholar search and see what comes up.

Anonymous said...

The average reading level of hearing adults is 6th grade, so Deaf people aren't too far behind.

Also, just because your daughter passed everything, that doesn't mean she doesn't qualify for things. It just means that they don't want to deal with her anymore. When I was in high school, getting all A's, they said I wouldn't have an interpreter anymore because I clearly didn't need it. How silly is that!?

Li-Li's Mom said...

Hi K.L. ! Adult literacy in America is usually described as falling between the 8th and 9th grade level:

"Adult Literacy in America (NALS)" National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (NCES 1993-275), April 2002.

I've not seen anything more recent, or which specifies "hearing adults" vs. general public. Or any recent studies of deaf kids either, which I'd love to see.

Sara said...

I agree with the above poster about IEP. If you do feel that your daughter will benefit from IEP servicse, fight for them! Grades don't tell the whole story. Just because she's making A's, it doesn't mean that she's had to work her tail off in order to get those grades to make up for her hearing loss. I used to get frustrated with my note-taking even though I did okay on tests... only because I had to spend extra time studying from the textbook to make up for what I lost in a lecture.

As for reading literacy, I have no idea. I am wondering if exposure to closed-captioning/subtitles on television helps with it... that's how I basically learned how to read.

K.L. said...

Thanks for all your comments. She still has an IEP, just not in academics. But she still receives the services she needs, which is the FM, audiological services, and pull outs for vocab pre teaching as needed. And we can jump in whenever we see any issues that need to be addressed.

She also has a very good support team at her school, which has the deaf ed program in it. That is very helpful, and she is doing very well.

It is just frustrating that they aren't more up front in posting current and accurate info regarding literacy issues.

kim said...

K.L. I have no doubt you know exactly where she should be and are fully on top of things. Sounds like she's doing great! I wanted you to know I nominated you for a Beautiful Blogger Award.

K.L. said...

Kim, Thank you so much for your nomination. I value your voice here on the blog.

Greg McCall said...

Hi everyone, nice line of conversation -- I am a Special Education teacher, and have been working with literacy programs for a number of years.

1st -for those of you interested in subtitling and literacy try & or Kothari's study in India at -- Subtitling impacts many different types and levels of reading -- I have even used with a blind student learning Braille. I suppliment my classes with this approach and my students have always made a +2 GE gain per year. Please let me know what data/info you would like to see on my site that demonstrates how effective this approach can be.

2nd Literacy levels for adults in U.S. are typically sited at 6th -6.5 G.E. --look to your local newspaper it is written to population it serves. Most community college programs and most trade programs need a 10 GE for a decent shot at success.

Li-Li's Mom said...

Hi Greg, thanks for the links! Where did you find the stats you site ("Literacy levels for adults in U.S. are typically sited at 6th -6.5 G.E")? I've looked far and wide and would love to get my hands on something more recent than the National Center for Education Statistics source released in 2003 that indicates 8th-9th grade levels as average for adults, and looks like you might have a better source.