Emails, text messaging, websites, magazines, comics, prescriptions, instruction manuals, textbooks and novels: all require the receptive skills reading the printed word. Filling out forms, sending emails, writing reports or letters, creating resumes, or writing a poem all require the expressive skill of writing. Either way, conversing in print in the “real-time” world of instant messaging is constant and not slowly down. (Moores & Martin, 2002, p 217) Where does that leave the Deaf child?
While their hearing counterparts take in a lot of their learning incidentally, the deaf child does not have the same access to the ideas and information floating verbally around them- unless of course, the deaf child grows up with deaf parents- only then does this learning become visual. However, deaf children with deaf parents represents only 10% of the population- if that. What about the other 90% of deaf children?
Traditionally, it has been perceived that Deaf children have a 2 year lag in language development to their hearing peers (site research)
What can be done to maximize literacy learning among Deaf children? This has been an ongoing concern. Such factors as intensive exposure to the printed materials, early access to language (sign language or spoken, though the former has been noted to possibly be more effective) and whether the parents are deaf or hearing (cited research in Moores & Martin, Deaf Learners, 2002, p 180) all play a crucial part in acquiring the ability to read skillfully.
What do the best Deaf readers do ? There are endless successful Deaf readers who are role models for young Deaf children to emulate.
POPDHH has interviewed a few of those in the Deaf community who love to read and are good at it. While the circumstances are uniquely different, each shares their story about how they developed their love for reading.