Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Virtual Environments as a Tool for Improving Sequence Ability of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Virtual Environments as a Tool for Improving Sequence Ability of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Article excerpt

Though time is an essential dimension of human life, deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) children experience difficulty perceiving this concept (Eden, 2008; Ingber & Eden, 2011; Kaiser-Grodecka &Cieszynska, 1991; Marschark, Lang, & Albertini, 2002). The process of developing the concept of time is gradual, starting in infancy, with complete mastery of all dimensions of time acquired in adolescence (Zakay, 1998).

Although researchers have reported that D/HH children have great difficulty with time perception, formal study programs that focus on facilitating their grasp of time are lacking for these children (Eden, 2008; Ingber & Eden, 2011). In the present study, we conducted an early intervention that aimed to improve sequential time perception by training young D/HH children to arrange episodes of a story's sequence, using either virtual reality (VR) technology or pictures.

Time Perception Among D/HH Children

The human experience of change is complex. While one primary element clearly is the experience of a succession of events, distinguishable events are separated by more-or-less lengthy intervals called durations ("Time Perception," 2014). Thus, sequence and duration are fundamental aspects of what is perceived in the change of time (Fraser, 2000). Time is an abstract concept, based on representative thinking. Respondents who look at a series of pictures of an event that develops over time are expected to understand the meaning of each point in time, to fill in the gaps from their own experience, and to construct the sequence of events that develops over time. To do this, respondents must possess an ability for abstraction (Bornens, 1990). Children, acutely aware of the world around them, perceive time as prolonged; every second is played out in real time as their brains soak up information from all directions. While the brains of our children are developing, they are constantly collecting information from the world around them, accumulating knowledge ranging from basic things such as sunrise and sunset to the way the blades of grass move in a slight breeze on a particular hill in their neighborhood (Plummer & Humphrey, 2009). Many studies testify to the difficulties D/HH children have in understanding the abstract (de Feu & Fergusson, 2003; Flatley & Gittinger, 1990; King & Quigley, 1985; Marschark et al., 2002; Passig & Eden, 2000,2003). Congenital deafness affects different aspects of information processing and time perception (Tirinelli, Brunetti, & Olivetti-Belardinelli, 2009). It seems that hearing deprivation during the early development period might influence the cognitive functioning that connects to perception, management, and the organization of the temporal sequence of stimulus, thoughts, and actions (Bolognini et al., 2011; Conway et al., 2011).

Eden (2008) found that D/HH children ages 6-10 years experienced very significant difficulty arranging pictures in temporal order to produce a story. On the pictures series subtest of the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (A. Kaufman & N. Kaufman, 1983), a substantial 3.5-year gap emerged be - tween these children's test scores and their age norms; on the picture arrangement subtest of the third edition of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (Wechsler, 1991), the children's scores were one statistical deviation below the norm. Marschark et al. (2002) noted that even on nonverbal IQ tests designed especially for D/HH children, gaps emerge in favor of hearing children in tasks involving sequence or temporal ordering. There is also some evidence pointing to the possibility of successful performance of such tasks by D/HH children (e.g., Rhys-Jones & Ellis, 2000; Sullivan & Montoya, 1997).

Kaiser-Grodecka and Cieszynska (1991) suggested that in order to create an understanding of distance and time relativity, historical events, and causal connections, an abstract category must be created-a sense of historical time-that is not the "here and now. …

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