, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 459-476

Phonemic Awareness is Not Necessary to Become a Skilled Deaf Reader

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Abstract

A review of research investigating prelingually deaf individuals’ word reading skills, phonemic awareness, and reading comprehension challenges the widely held conclusion that the impoverished readings skills of such individuals are the result of poor phonological processing abilities. Compelling findings show that—notwithstanding often remarkably poor phonemic awareness of the prelingually deaf—such readers succeed in developing word-reading strategies that sustain written word recognition at comparable levels to their hearing counterparts. Moreover, evidence suggests no direct causal relationship between their sensitivity to the phonological properties of words and their ability to comprehend connected text. These findings further indicate that such readers may gain from the development of orthographic knowledge in conjunction with syntactic awareness and metacognitive skills but not necessarily from the sheer fostering of their phonemic/phonological awareness.