Academic journal article The Volta Review

Reading Comprehension of an Inferential Text by Deaf Students with Cochlear Implants Using Cued Speech

Academic journal article The Volta Review

Reading Comprehension of an Inferential Text by Deaf Students with Cochlear Implants Using Cued Speech

Article excerpt

The aim of this study was to explore the ability of children who are profoundly deaf to reach high levels of reading proficiency on an inferential reading task. In an experimental narrative reading task, four children with prelingual hearing loss who used cued speech (MOC group) were compared with 58 students with typical hearing: 30 peers at the same chronologic age (CA group) and 28 students at the same reading level (RA group). The MOC group performed similarly to the RA group. Cued speech (CS), used jointly with a cochlear implant (CI), seems to provide students who are deaf or hard of hearing with an additional support that helps them achieve high performance levels in reading comprehension.


The subject of how high-level reading skill acquisition can transform a child with hearing loss into an autonomous pupil is widely studied, but many questions still remain (Bresson, 1996; Harris & Beech, 1995; KyIe & Woll, 1985; Lichtenstein, 1998; Marschark & Harris, 1996; Paul & Jackson, 1994).

Several studies have shown that, after finishing compulsory education, students who are deaf or hard of hearing (mean age 17 years) have reading levels similar to or lower than the reading levels of students with typical hearing in the fourth grade (mean age 9 years) (Conrad, 1979; Torres & Santana, 2005). The mean scores of a sample of pupils with hearing loss used as the normative value in the 9th edition of the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) did not reach the most basic level in that test (Traxler, 2000). This group could be situated between the third and fourth academic grade. The 80th percentile for this sample is comparable to the basic or below-basic performance level of people with typical hearing. Some young people with hearing loss have performed similarly to young people with typical hearing, although such good results diminish with age (Traxler, 2000). Previous studies have shown similar results (Holt, 1993; Holt, Traxler, & Alien, 1996). The best results (Geers & Moog, 1989; Lewis, 1998) have been attributed to excellent competence in English oral language.

Skilled reading is the ability to derive meaning from a text accurately and efficiently. To attain a high level of skill, novice readers must, through instruction and practice, acquire two sets of abilities that are often studied separately but that actually develop and operate interactively. First, to recognize printed words, children must become aware that spoken words are composed of smaller elements of speech (phonological awareness), grasp the idea that letters represent these sounds (the alphabetic principle), learn the many systematic correspondences between sounds and spellings (decoding), and acquire a repertoire of highly familiar words that can be recognized on sight (word recognition). second, to acquire strong reading comprehension skills, children must develop the necessary knowledge base to understand the messages conveyed by connected text. This includes background knowledge of facts and concepts, a broad and deep vocabulary, familiarity with syntactic and semantic sentence structures, verbal reasoning abilities, and knowledge of literacy conventions.

Becoming a skilled reader requires the development of all these components, not in isolation but interactively. Decoding, for example, depends on understanding and using the alphabetic principle, which in turn depends on phonological awareness. As a means to word recognition, however, decoding a letter string is of little value unless the pronunciation the child arrives at can be paired with the pronunciation of a word the child already knows in spoken form. Similarly, sophisticated comprehension strategies are of little aid in interpreting the passage unless the child can successfully recognize most of the words. Thus, a low score in a text comprehension measure can result from weak comprehension abilities, slow or inaccurate word recognition skills, or both. …

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