An evaluation of an intervention using sign language and multi-sensory coding to support word learning and reading comprehension of deaf signing children

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    The reading skills of many deaf children lag several years behind those of hearing children, and there is a need for identifying reading difficulties and implementing effective reading support strategies in this population. This study embraces a balanced reading approach, and investigates the efficacy of applying multi-sensory coding strategies and reading scaffolding to facilitate elementary phase deaf readers’ reading development. Sign language – in combination with multiple visual, tactile and kinaesthetic coding strategies and reading scaffolding techniques – was used to facilitate literacy and vocabulary development. Participants were 64 children, diagnosed with severe to profound bilateral hearing loss and aged from 6;03 to 11;08 years (mean age 9.37 years). Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental and a control group. There were no significant differences between the groups pre-intervention on measures of sight word fluency, word recognition, receptive and expressive vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension. Results demonstrated a significant increase in reading and vocabulary skills of deaf readers who received the balanced reading approach intervention, as compared to the control group who received usual classroom instruction. The article concludes with a discussion of the theoretical and pedagogical implications these findings have for deaf children’s reading and literacy development.