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Literacy Development in Deaf Children

The event disseminated key findings from two major research studies on reading in deaf children

Staff from City University London organised a half day event on ‘Literacy Development in Deaf Children’ at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children earlier this month.

The event, which took place took place on Saturday 7th November, aimed to disseminate key findings from two major Nuffield funded UK research studies on reading in deaf children, to give attendees a perspective on other research in this area and to stimulate a discussion on how to translate research evidence into good practice.

The morning consisted of short talks from Professor Penny Roy and Dr Ros Herman from the Division of Language and Communication Science (LCS) at City University London, Professor Margaret Harris from Oxford Brookes University and Drs Mairead Macsweeney and Hannah Pimperton from UCL.

The 145 attendees included teaching staff, parents, speech and language therapists and language support professionals. Following the presentations, Karen Simpson, headteacher at Frank Barnes, parents Kate Rowley and Polly Burton and Dr Fiona Kyle from LCS joined the presenters in taking questions from the floor in a lively panel discussion.

Speaking about the event, Dr Ros Herman said:

“The overall feedback from the event was excellent and indicated that attendees had developed a better understanding of the links between different areas that are important for deaf children’s literacy development. Attendees also wanted more contact with researchers through similar events, and this is something will be looking at in the future.”

Suggestions included researchers attending parent groups, contributing to a teacher workshop on implementing research into practice and developing guidelines for teaching literacy to deaf children based on research findings. The latter are important for reaching both specialist and non-specialist teachers who play a critical role in raising literacy levels in deaf children, as increasing numbers now attend mainstream schools.

Feedback also indicated that the event stimulated discussion between different professional groups who work with deaf children and that attendees will do things differently as a result of attending, such as working more on spelling and speech-reading, and giving a greater focus to early language work.

Speaking at the event, one attendee said:

“As a parent of an 18 month deaf child, having access to current research has been brilliant. I’m so pleased that it was free, and I want to use Visual Phonics at home.”

Specialist speech and language therapists and teachers also praised the event, with several highlighting how it was useful to learn about the link between speech-reading, phonological awareness and spelling in developing literacy.

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