Bar Ilan Linguistics Colloquium
Lecturer: Paul Miller
Similarities and Differences in the Processing of Written Text by Skilled and Less Skilled Readers with Prelingual Deafness
The first systematic investigations into the intelligence of prelingually deafened individuals in the early years of the last century also called into attention their rather drastically impoverished literacy skills (e.g., Pintner & Patterson, 1916). More recent investigations show that the pessimistic picture reported almost a hundred years ago has not notably changed (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2005; Miller, 2000, 2005b; Monreal & Hernandez, 2005; Traxler, 2000; Wauters, Van Bon, & Telling, 2006), i.e., prelingually deaf individuals as a group continue to manifest reading comprehension (RC) levels markedly below those of typically developing hearing counterparts.
The current study represents an attempt to elucidate the core factor(s) of prelingually deaf individuals' reading failure. For this purpose examinations focused on similarities and differences in the processing of written text by deaf individuals manifesting marked differences in their reading comprehension levels. Data was gathered from three sources: (1) performance on a sentence comprehension test manipulating the requirement of syntactic processing; (2) examination of meta-linguistic awareness; and (3) investigation of the nature and efficiency of word-processing strategy(ies). Participants were 62 prelingually deafened individuals from two levels of education: 36 high school students (tenth and eleventh graders) and 26 undergraduate or graduate university students. Findings imply that neither meta-linguistic awareness nor word-processing efficiency distinguish between skilled and less skilled deaf readers. Rather, differences in reading comprehension (RC) skills seem to reflect variance in their ability to process text at the supra-lexical (sentence) level, the level at which the final meaning of single words is elaborated by its integration based upon structural (syntactic) knowledge. Findings are analyzed in terms of a lexical versus a structural coding deficit hypothesis. Their implications for the reading instruction of students who are prelingually deaf are also discussed.
Place: Bldg. 403 Room 101