Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

A Comparison of Phonemic and Phonological Awareness in Educators Working with Children Who Are D/deaf or Hard of Hearing

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

A Comparison of Phonemic and Phonological Awareness in Educators Working with Children Who Are D/deaf or Hard of Hearing

Article excerpt

Messier, J., & Jackson, C. W (2014). A comparison of phonemic and phonological awareness in educators working with children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing. American Annals of the Deaf , 158(5), 522-538.

Legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 places demands on educators to provide a quality education to all children. Unfortunately, current educational supports have failed to help children with hearing loss succeed academically, specifically with regard to learning to read (Harris & Moreno, 2004; Kyle & Harris, 2010). Reading is an essential skill for academic and social success, and its importance increases as a child advances academically. Poor reading skills are associated with challenges such as higher dropout rates (Denti & Guerin, 1999) and poor preparation for entry into the workforce (Ehren, Lenz, & Deshier, 2004). Historically, children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing have been ill prepared for our literacy-driven world (Luckner, Sebald, Cooney, Young, & Muir, 2005; Winn, 2007). It is unfortunate that, despite technological advances (e.g., cochlear implants and hearing aids), children with hearing loss continue to lag behind their hearing peers in reading achievement (Marschark, Sarchet, Rhoten, & Zupan, 2010).

In order to improve reading out- comes for children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing, additional research is needed on reading instruction. Effective reading instruction for chil-dren involves teaching a number of critical elements (e.g., vocabulary, alphabetic knowledge, fluency, morphology, phonological awareness). Of these, research on phonological awareness (PA) instruction for children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing is in its infancy. PA, the ability to detect and manipulate speech sounds, predicts reading achievement in both typically developing children (Hester & Hodson, 2004; Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1994) and those with hearing loss (Harris & Beech, 1998; Kelly, 1996; Schaper & Reitsma, 1993). In addition, the paucity of research examining PA knowledge and skills of educators working with children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing makes the argument for continued research on this topic.

Educating children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing requires specialized skills if the learning needs of these students are to be met successfully. Educators such as speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and teachers of the deaf (TODs) are required to have advanced training to meet the unique needs of children with learning challenges. Although their goals when working with d/Deaf and hard of hearing students are similar, the two professions' training differs (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association [ASHA], 2004). Considering their dual role in teaching children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing how to read, further examination of their differences in teaching approaches and content knowledge is warranted. The purpose of the present study was to examine educator knowledge specifically related to PA and to identify if differences in knowledge exist between TODs and SLPs. Additional data on gaps in service providers' knowledge of PA may be useful for identifying where continuing education is most needed, as part of the effort to improve instructional practices through better preparation of preservice programs.

To further support the need to study educators of children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing and their knowledge of PA, we will first review the importance of PA in reading achievement and the importance of teacher knowledge to academic success as both pertain to children who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.

Importance of Phonological Awareness in Reading

The development of PA has been demonstrated to be foundational to reading success in children with hearing loss (Wang, Trezek, Luckner, & Paul, 2008) and those without hearing loss (Burgess & Lonigan, 1998; Lonigan, Burgess, Anthony, & Barker, 1998). …

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