Literacy Resources for Teaching Deaf Children

Helping Deaf Children Master English

Cover of Language and Literacy Development in Children Who Are Deaf
Cover of Language and Literacy Development in Children Who Are Deaf. photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

Despite the commonly acknowledged difficulty deaf children have learning English, there is no shortage of resources for helping them do so.

Literacy Teaching Methods

At a parent-teacher meeting, my child's instructor told me that the class was using a tool called Manipulative Visual Language (MVL). According to the teacher, this technique helps deaf children visualize the sounds they can not hear.

The Fall 2003 issue of Odyssey, a publication of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University, has an informative article on the use of MVL [PDF].

Literacy Products

The Clerc Center product catalog includes an entire section on literacy. Products available include a book on using dialogue journals, posters, and a writer's handbook for deaf students.

Several companies develop literacy products or resources for deaf children, too, including:

  • The Institute for Disabilities Research and Training, which has computer software with signed stories and games, plus companion books that feature Paws the Dog and the Con-SIGN-tration memory game series.
  • Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) came up with "Cornerstones," a program that uses video stories to teach literacy to young deaf and hard of hearing children.
  • produces the "Read With Me" video series of ASL translations of well-known young children's literature.

Deaf Literacy Websites allows registered users to search for literacy material in the documents docsearch. Literacy is one of the "topical focus" choices in the search engine. Among the documents available for download are teacher problem/solution documents. One that I downloaded myself for my own use was titled "Encouraging Reading for Enjoyment." One of my deaf children was particularly resistant to reading, even resisting reading for pleasure, although he saw me enjoying my comic books and newspapers all the time.

Gallaudet University also maintains the Signs of Literacy project website. This project examined the relationship between ASL and literacy. The publications and presentations bibliography includes some downloadable material.

Books on Deaf Literacy

Several books have been published that address literacy in deaf people:

  • Language and Literacy Development in Children Who Are Deaf (2nd Edition)
  • Literacy and Deaf People: Cultural and Contextual Perspectives
  • Literacy and Your Deaf Child: What Every Parent Should Know
  • Literacy Learning for Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  • The Words They Need: Welcoming Children Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing to Literacy

Literacy Articles

There are numerous articles addressing literacy. Over a hundred can be found through the Eric.Ed.Gov website, a database of educational materials. Some articles can be downloaded free. The National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness has a section on Literacy, with articles, e-book resource lists, and much more.

More on Literacy From Deafness

Although this site is not solely dedicated to literacy, there is a section at Deafness called the Literary Corner that was set up to encourage deaf people to write. Another literacy related article discusses the use of music in deaf education.

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