by Claire Miller
Educators have been able to use early intervention techniques, hearing screenings and new technology to help children who are deaf or hard of hearing improve their literacy skills.
Over the past three years, College of Education Professors Amy Lederberg and Susan Easterbrooks have been developing and implementing curriculum and early intervention strategies for pre-K and kindergarten students with hearing loss, and a recent $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Special Education Research will help them continue this work.
“All of the early intervention improvements in recent years have created a generation of deaf children who have great potential for entering kindergarten on par with their peers when it comes to literacy, but they’re still at risk of not reaching that level,” said Lederberg, who will serve as the principal investigator on the project. “We’ve created an intervention for pre-K and kindergarten children to give them a strong foundation for literacy.”
The three-year grant, which will begin this summer, will allow Lederberg and Easterbrooks to continue developing and improving their curriculum, which teaches children about phonological awareness, alphabetic knowledge, storytelling, narrative structure and other fundamental literary elements. They will also try to adapt the curriculum for deaf children who don’t have spoken word abilities – a subset that accounts for one-third of pre-K children with hearing loss in the Atlanta area.
Lederberg and Easterbrooks hope that by the end of the three years, they will have a more effective curriculum as well as a set of professional development resources for teachers who want to implement their curriculum.
“We hope to have an even more successful intervention that will focus on both meaning-based parts of reading – how to read and understand a book – and code-based parts of literacy, which has to do with learning letters and being able to take apart words and put them back together again,” Lederberg said. “We are very excited about this project.”
For more information about the National Center for Special Education Research, visit http://ies.ed.gov/ncser.