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Deaf Education:  Phonics and Deaf Literacy
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In a message dated 8/21/2003 1:19:12 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

I got to thinking about Deaf children, and I was wondering if they are able to learn how to read. If they can't hear how alphabet sounds are made how do they learn to read?

(I know hearing aids help... but.... I don't mean to give offense in asking. I am just curious.)



Phonics (sounding out words) is only one method of reading. Another method is "sight reading" which involves learning to recognize whole words visually.

An example of sight reading takes place when very young children riding in a car recognize the big "M" (golden arches) on a McDonalds' advertising sign and start saying "I'm hungry! Can we go to McDonalds?" Nobody goes around saying phonetically "mmmmmm" when they see that advertisement sign. They just see the "M" and recognize that it is associated with hamburgers and french fries.

This direct association between words and symbols and the concepts they represent is one of the ways deaf children learn to read.

You don't need know how something sounds to be able to read and understand it. An example of this takes place when you read a novel or news story involving a person with a strange foreign name that you don't know how to even begin to pronounce. As you read the story your mind is likely using "inner speech." Each time you come across that "foreign" name you "skip over" it in your internal dialog but an area of your brain still knows to whom the name is referring.

Dr. Bill


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