Will Cochlear Implants Close the Reading Achievement Gap for Deaf Students?

Marc Marschark, Thomastine Sarchet, Cathy Rhoten and Megan Zupan

in The Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education, Vol. 2

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780195390032
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Will Cochlear Implants Close the Reading Achievement Gap for Deaf Students?

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This chapter provides an overview and critical analysis of studies examining reading achievement among children with cochlear implants. A variety of recent studies have demonstrated benefits to hearing, language, and speech from implants, leading to assumptions that early implantation and longer periods of implant should be associated with higher reading achievement. Yet, reading achievement has not been found to be related to hearing thresholds in deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children without implants, so hearing is not the only factor that has to be considered. Indeed, while there are clear benefits of cochlear implantation to reading achievement in young deaf children, empirical results and practical outcomes have been somewhat variable. Examination of the literature is made with an eye toward possible implications of confounding variables, such as cognitive abilities, age of implantation, and language skills prior to implantation. Evidence suggesting that early advantages to reading from cochlear implantation may not be maintained implies that we do not yet know how best to educate children with implants. A similar situation exists with regard to hard-of-hearing children, and insofar as most children with cochlear implants are functionally (at least) hard of hearing, we may be able to learn much from comparative studies of reading abilities within the two populations. The chapter discusses methodological shortcomings in existing research, as well as theoretical and practical questions to be addressed in future research.

Keywords: cochlear implants; reading achievement; hard-of-hearing children; cognitive development; deaf children

Article.  13476 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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