Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences
Teaching parents about the value of shared book reading has become a component of intervention for many programs that want to promote early literacy with diverse populations, including families with deaf and hard-of-hearing children. There is evidence that supports the effectiveness of family literacy programs in that participation in shared reading activities is related to growth in areas such as language and early literacy skills. For all children, deaf and hearing alike, there are techniques that are effective when reading books with children. It has been proposed that there are specific techniques that deaf parents with deaf children use to capitalize on their child's reliance on visual rather than primarily auditory cues. These techniques, or indigenous practices, used by deaf parents are believed to provide a foundation for their deaf children that support them as they encounter print in books and as they enter into an academic environment. The purpose of this study was to specifically examine the indigenous family practice of shared reading between deaf mothers and their deaf children. Using a matched pair design, the study compared these practices to how hearing mothers read with their hearing children. These two groups were selected because there is no language barrier between a deaf mother and her deaf child and a hearing mother and her hearing child. However, one major difference is that the deaf dyads communicated in a language, American Sign Language (ASL), which is different from the written English text. In contrast, the hearing dyads communicated in spoken English, which is structurally identical to the text. A comparison of these two groupings provided insight into what techniques may be similar or different in the shared reading process, and specifically, what techniques deaf parents use to make connections to the English text. This study examined 20 families in two groups using a matched pair design. There were ten deaf mother/deaf child dyads and ten hearing mother/hearing child dyads. The children were between 3 and 5 years of age and the deaf and hearing children were matched for age. Each dyad was videotaped in their home on at least two occasions. During the first session, they read two unfamiliar books that were provided by the researcher. During the second session, the families read one familiar book (that was introduced as an unfamiliar book in the first session), and one additional unfamiliar book. A coding system that was devised for a pilot study was revised and used to describe the parent reading techniques of the unfamiliar books. An inter-rater reliability check was conducted on 7 minutes of each of the video/transcripts. Analyses included paired-samples t-tests and one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to determine if there were group differences in reading techniques used by the two groups of parents and if there was a difference between the first and second reading of the unfamiliar book. Results showed that deaf and hearing mothers do use different reading techniques when reading with their children and that there is minimal effect of book familiarity. Descriptive analysis showed specifically how deaf mothers make English explicit for their deaf child compared to hearing mothers with hearing children. There have not been any controlled studies that have examined how deaf mothers read books with their deaf children compared to hearing mothers reading with their hearing children. It is important to learn what, if any, techniques they may use that may be replicated and taught to all parents of deaf children so that they can engage in more effective shared reading activities.
Berke, Michele G., "Deaf parents with deaf children and hearing parents with hearing children: A comparison of shared reading experiences" (2012). Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 13.