Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from Sarah M. Milton, Ontario

I understand that deaf children’s memory skills are different than hearing children’s. I have heard teachers report that deaf kids seem to particular difficulty with some kinds of activities that require memory. Are there things we can do? Situations to avoid?

Question from Sarah M. Milton, Ontario. Posted June 23, 2009.
Response from Peter Hauser - NTID

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There have a been many studies on deaf individuals’ memory functioning.  In a nutshell, deaf individuals’ short-term memory for words, letters, and numbers appears to be shorter than hearing individuals.  Deaf individuals also appear to have difficulty recalling information in the order presented compared to hearing individuals.  However, signers (deaf and hearing) appear to have better spatial short-term memory compared to non-signers.  Current studies are still trying to investigate why there is a difference between deaf and hearing individuals’ memory.  The best way to improve any child’s memory (deaf or hearing) is to provide information in different ways (written, demonstrations, videos, etc).  For more information see Hall, M. & Bavelier, D. (in press). Working memory, deafness and sign language. In M. Marschark and P. Spencer (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education, Volume, 2.