Journal Article

Communication Mode and the Processing of Printed Words: Evidence From Readers With Prelingually Acquired Deafness

Paul Miller

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 7, issue 4, pages 312-329
Published in print October 2002 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online October 2002 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/deafed/7.4.312
Communication Mode and the Processing of Printed Words: Evidence From Readers With Prelingually Acquired Deafness

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The aim of this study was to elucidate how the primary communication background of prelingual deafened readers affects the way they mediate the recognition of written words. A computer-controlled research paradigm (a semantic decision task) asking for the categorization of familiar Hebrew nouns was used to investigate the participants' sensibility to phonological and orthographic manipulations in the target stimuli. Two groups of readers with hearing impairments and a hearing control group participated in the study. Twenty-seven of the participants with deafness (mean grade 6.9) were raised by hearing parents advocating a strict oral approach at home and at school. For an additional 22 students who were deaf (mean grade 6.9), the majority of them children of deaf parents, Israeli Sign Language was the preferred means of communication. The mean grade of the 39 participants in the hearing control group was 6.5. Findings indicate that both the hearing participants and the participants with prelingual deafness who were trained to communicate orally recoded visually presented target words phonologically. No such evidence was found for participants with deafness who were native signers. Although participants from signing backgrounds seemed to generate nonphonological representations of written words, there was no evidence that for them, the absence of recoding to phonology detrimentally affected on their ability to process such representations flexibly. In all, findings suggest a causal link between an individual's processing strategy for some written words and the modal nature of his or her primary language.

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Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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