Thursday, May 4, 2023

Can a deaf person learn to read


How does a deaf person learn to read just as well as one who can hear?

Read the comment section of my post on ‘How the brain learns to read' – Dehaene Stanislas.

Here is another account by another deaf person who is able to read. This should put paid to Dehaene’s theory which says the following:

Reading requires specializing the visual system for the shapes of the letters, and connecting them to speech sounds.

Teaching letter-sound correspondences is therefore essential.

I have repeated several time for you to think rather than accepting whatever is said by so called experts such as Sally Shaywitz, Dehaene Stanislas, Andy Johnson, Timothy Shanahan, David Boulton, Sharon Vaughn and many others. 

I agree that teaching letter-sound correspondences is the fastest way to acquiring reading (decoding). However, I don’t believe that is the only way. This would be common knowledge as millions did learn to read during the whole word/language period.

Here is an account of how a deaf person learned to read.

Michele Westfall - Deaf and native ASL

Letters don’t have to represent sounds.

Letters represent letters…which people then put together to form words. Words don’t represent sounds…words represent objects or concepts. People then put these words together to form sentences. Sentences don’t represent sounds, either. Sentences convey meaning or ideas.

Many Deaf people learn to read and write *visually*…and we do it by associating letters with our alphabet in our country’s signed language. Then these signed letters become signed words. Signed words then are put together in signed sentences.

The process is the same. The only difference is, hearing people use their ears to learn their language, and Deaf people use our eyes to learn our language.

Sound is not required for learning.

Second, understanding reading in deaf children has the potential to inform us about reading in all populations.

To become readers, children must learn the mapping between the spoken language they already know and printed words on a page. For English, as for most languages, that mapping is based on sound. Once children understand the underlying principles of the print-sound mapping—once they “crack the code”—they can call upon their knowledge of their spoken language to facilitate the reading process. Profoundly deaf children are disadvantaged as potential readers on both of these counts—they do not have easy access to the phonological code and many do not know any language well, let alone the language captured in print.

Profoundly deaf children have inadequate access to the auditory basis for print-sound mapping. Speech is not the only route to language. Language can be learned through the eye and hand rather than the ear and mouth, that is, children can learn a signed rather than a spoken language.

However, some profoundly deaf individuals do learn to read, and are as proficient at reading as their normally hearing peers. How do they do it, particularly given the stumbling blocks we have identified? How is it possible to learn to read without a deep understanding of the phonological code upon which the print system is based?

These findings suggest that deaf children read by using a code that is not based on sound. Yet some deaf readers, often very good readers, do seem to know the sound code of English. The question, whose answer awaits future research, is whether phonological awareness precedes or follows excellence in reading in profoundly deaf individuals. That is, do profoundly deaf individuals become excellent readers because they know something about the sound system of English? Or did they learn something about the sound system of English after having become excellent readers of English orthography? The only way to answer this question is to conduct longitudinal studies of profoundly deaf children as they become proficient readers.

We have seen that children can learn to read without a firm grounding in the phonological system.

In addition to leading to a better understanding of how profoundly deaf children learn to read, studies of reading in deaf children can teach us about reading in general.

Read more of Michele Westfall in an interview found here.

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