Literacy in Deaf Children

How many words is a typical child exposed to by the time they start kindergarten? The answer depends on how frequently someone reads aloud to them. Caregivers who read to their child multiple times per day potentially expose their child to one million more words by age five when compared to caregivers who never read to their child. This discrepancy in vocabulary can affect academic performance later in life.

Addressing the Word Gap

Developing literacy in deaf children is one goal of the Deaf Education & Hearing Science (DEHS) Program. DEHS students who are earning their master’s degree at UT Health San Antonio begin working with deaf and hard of hearing children to build reading skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

The DEHS Program trains teachers in the listening & spoken language (LSL) method of deaf education. Families who choose LSL can build their child’s vocabulary and avoid the pitfalls of “the million word gap“. Word exposure affects reading ability in children. This “word gap” can appear in children of various abilities.

How DEHS Helps LSL Families

DEHS students work with families of deaf and hard of hearing children to increase their exposure to vocabulary. This is one building block of literacy in deaf children. Using LSL can be an effective way to close this “word gap” for these children. Watch the video above to hear from a parent whose child works with DEHS students.

The DEHS Program at UT Health San Antonio gives teachers the tools they need to assist young children who are deaf or hard of hearing to build important language and vocabulary skills that are necessary for later reading.

Dr. Sarah Ammerman, PhD, is an associate professor in the DEHS Program. She says, “children who hear 40 million words by kindergarten do much better with literacy/reading later in life. Teachers of the deaf are crucial to maximizing the benefits of early identification so children who are [deaf or hard of hearing] have the opportunity to realize their potential.”

Learn More About DEHS

To learn more about the DEHS Program, you may submit your email address here. You may also apply to DEHS to earn your master’s degree for free. Contact the DEHS Program Director, Dr. Blane Trautwein, Ed.D, for scholarship information.


Article Categories: DEHS news