What was this paper about?
This paper looked at data from a three-year study of preschool-aged deaf children in the United States to see how children’s early signing skills affected the rate of growth of their early literacy skills. It focused on children whose level of hearing was low enough to mean they had little or no access to spoken language, and who were growing up in homes where signs were regularly used for communication.
It examined the children’s skill levels in letter and word identification, and how quickly they improved over time. It also considered how much these were affected by the presence of deaf parents in the home and how skilled the children were in sign language.
What were the key findings?
- Fifty-six deaf children from signing families were studied for three years, from preschool through to entering primary school.
- Early signing skills were found to support the development of English literacy skills.
- Whether or not children had hearing or deaf parents, stronger signing skills contributed significantly to children's literacy skills and how fast those skills developed.
- Hearing parents as well as deaf parents can give their children early, consistent exposure to sign language to help them learn these skills.
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