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 Anonymous

I am a teacher for deaf/hard-of-hearing students in an elementary school and am always searching for a better reading curriculum to use with my students that will support their bilingual education. What research-based reading programs or curriculums would you recommend using? What is your opinion/experience on the effectiveness of Reading Milestones for deaf children who use ASL?

Question from Anonymous. Posted July 2, 2009.
Response from John Albertini - NTID

One problem with using basal readers like Reading Milestones is that they use theoretical definitions of difficulty or complexity. So for example, the passive voice (The dog was hit by a car.) is deemed too difficult for basic readers. In fact, this situation is not that simple and basic readers (and English learners) know and use some passive constructions. Another problem with simplified texts is that they are written to formula and boring to read. This is not trivial. Simple repetitive sentences may be structurally simpler but such simplification may actually make them more difficult to understand in connected text.

While I cannot suggest a specific reading program for elementary deaf children, I can advise that research supports 1) using authentic texts (with discussion of students’ related experience and dialogue in ASL before reading such texts); and 2) instruction in decoding individual English words and comprehension of their meaning in phrases and in sentences. Samples of modified, but authentic-seeming readings, may be found in the Qualitative Reading Inventory-4 by Lauren Leslie and JoAnne Caldwell. This is also a comprehensive, teacher-friendly assessment tool.