Language and Literacy Skills in Children with Cochlear Implants: Past and Present Findings

  • Susan NittrouerEmail author
  • Amanda Caldwell-Tarr


The vast majority of children with severe-to-profound hearing loss are born to parents with normal hearing who want their children to grow up with spoken language. Before the availability of cochlear implants, however, that goal was often unattainable, leaving these children to face lifetimes of greatly diminished capabilities. When the first generation of implants became available, dramatic improvements were immediately realized in these children’s abilities to acquire spoken language and literacy: about half of the deaf children who received cochlear implants began demonstrating performance on a variety of language and literacy skills within the typical range, defined as better than one standard deviation below the means of children with normal hearing. But as promising as those early outcomes were, it does not appear that these performance levels have changed proportionately with changes in implant technology. This chapter reviews relevant research using standardized measures of spoken language to examine the veracity of that impression, and describes findings across a wide range of studies that explored the linguistic and cognitive mechanisms underlying those standardized measures.


Children Cochlear implants Language Literacy Phonological sensitivity Literature review Reading Vocabulary acquisition Grammar Working memory 



This work was supported by Grant No. R01 DC006237 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institutes of Health. The authors are grateful to the many members of the laboratory staff who made the collection of these data possible, including Caitlin Rice, Daniel Burry, Jamie Kuess, Joanna H. Lowenstein, Eric Tarr, Emily Sansom, and Keri Low. Christopher Holloman provided help with statistical analysis. The continued commitment on the part of many families to participating in the longitudinal study described in this chapter is also gratefully recognized.


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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing SciencesUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Comprehensive Health InsightsLouisvilleUSA

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