Environmental factors associated with emergent literacy in deaf and hearing children
Gaar, Sara J.
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The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate environmental factors associated with emergent literacy in deaf and hearing children. Research with hearing children has continued to support the importance of early home experiences with literacy. Yet, few studies have investigated home factors associated with emergent literacy in deaf children. This study was designed to investigate whether emergent literacy, in deaf children as in hearing children, is associated with home and school factors. The sample was comprised of 28 deaf and hearing subjects, aged 5.3 to 6.11 years, from seven classes for deaf children and seven classes for hearing children. Children were selected by their teachers and identified as having more or fewer indicators of emergent literacy. The researcher assessed each child with the Early Literacy Assessment, an instrument developed for purposes of this study. Based on the scores from the ELA, four subject groups were established: 1) deaf-of-hearing children who had more indicators of emergent literacy; 2) deaf-of-hearing children who had fewer indicators of emergent literacy; 3) hearing children who had more indicators of emergent literacy; 4) hearing children who had fewer indicators of emergent literacy. The statistical difference of the ELA scores of the deaf and hearing groups was determined significant at <.01 level. Parents and teachers were interviewed, and the data derived from these interviews were analyzed for differences between and within the deaf and hearing groups. From these analyses a variety of factors concerned with home and school experiences were identified as statistically significant. Based on the data, it was concluded that with deaf children, as with hearing children, home literacy-oriented experiences and home factors are associated with emergent literacy. It was further concluded that there are significant differences between school literacy-oriented experiences provided to deaf and hearing children. The results of this study support the importance of the home environment in deaf and hearing children's literacy learning. Thus, early intervention programs are encouraged to assist parents in understanding they can make a difference in their children's literacy learning. In addition, the results supported more training for teachers of the deaf in literacy development and instruction.
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