Signs for Developing Reading Sign Language and Reading Development in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children
Sammanfattning: Reading development is supported by strong language skills, not least in deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children. The work in the present thesis investigates reading development in DHH children who use sign language, attend Regional Special Needs Schools (RSNS) in Sweden and are learning to read. The primary aim of the present work was to investigate whether the reading skills of these children can be improved via computerized sign language based literacy training. Another aim was to investigate concurrent and longitudinal associations between skills in reading, sign language, and cognition in this population. The results suggest that sign language based literacy training may support development of word reading. In addition, awareness and manipulation of the sub-lexical structure of sign language seem to assist word reading, and imitation of familiar signs (i.e., vocabulary) may be associated with developing reading comprehension. The associations revealed between sign language skills and reading development support the notion that sign language skills provide a foundation for emerging reading skills in DHH signing children. In addition, the results also suggest that working memory and Theory of Mind (ToM) are related to reading comprehension in this population. Furthermore, the results indicate that sign language experience enhances the establishment of representations of manual gestures, and that progression in ToM seems to be typical, although delayed, in RSNS pupils. Working memory has a central role in integrating environmental stimuli and language-mediated representations, and thereby provides a platform for cross-modal language processing and multimodal language development.
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