Children with hearing loss are at high risk for poor literacy outcomes. The average 18-year-old with hearing loss reads on roughly a fourth grade level (Qi & Mitchell, 2012). Deficits in literacy skills in this population emerge before the onset of formal schooling in emergent literacy skills.
One emergent literacy skill is print knowledge. Print knowledge consists of alphabet knowledge and conceptual print and written word knowledge. Alphabet knowledge appears to be relatively intact for children with hearing loss (DesJardin, Ambrose, & Eisenberg, 2009; Easterbrooks, Lederberg, Miller, Bergeron, & Connor, 2007). As a result of this finding, written language components of emergent literacy development have been relatively under-studied in children with hearing loss.
Preliminary work in our lab suggests that although alphabet knowledge is intact, conceptual print knowledge is a deficit for children with hearing loss. Shared book reading is widely considered a critical component of emergent literacy development in which children learn about print. Researchers have reported that children with normal hearing spend very little time attending visually to print during shared book reading (Evans & Saint-Aubin, 2005; Justice, Skibbe, & Canning, 2005). Yet, children with normal hearing typically develop conceptual print knowledge sufficient for later literacy achievement during the preschool years.
The goal of this study was to investigate visual attention to print during shared book reading of preschoolers with hearing loss. We hypothesized that preschool children with hearing loss would attend to print even less than their peers with normal hearing. Perhaps children with hearing loss know less about print than their peers with normal hearing because they do not attend to print during book reading.
Our results showed that children with hearing loss attended to print less than children with normal hearing. In addition, children with hearing loss were more likely to attend to print in books with high print salience (few words on the page, large text, print embedded in illustrations) than in books with low print salience (many words on the page, small text, no print in illustrations).
PUBLICATIONS FROM THIS STUDY
Korrapati, A., Werfel, K. L., Barnett, Z. P., & Schuele, C. M. (2013). Visual attention to print in preschool children with and without hearing loss. Young Scientist, 3, 54-56.
Korrapati, A., Werfel, K. L., & Schuele, C. M. (2013, November). Visual attention to print during storybook reading in preschool children with and without hearing loss. Poster presented at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Chicago, IL.
Korrapati, A., Werfel, K. L., Barnett, Z. P., & Schuele, C. M. (2012, July). Utilizing eye gaze as a measure of visual attention to print in children with hearing loss. Poster presented at the 2012 Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach Student Research Symposium, Nashville, TN.