Deafax Report to the Leverhulme Trust

The Significance of ICT for the Reading and Writing & Communication for Deaf People

“The Significance of ICT for the Reading and Writing & Communication for Deaf People” - Final report to the Leverhulme Trust by the Deafax Research Unit, November 2009

The project aim was to obtain data about the impact of ICT from controlled experiments, interviews and group discussions with deaf children and young adults about their experiences in learning to read, write and communicate, as well as from seminars on these and related issues with teachers of the deaf. Contexts were explored, notably past and current research in the US and elsewhere.

The project approach included the use of British Ability Scales (BAS) and the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability (NARA tests) at 9‐month intervals as baseline measures of general cognitive ability, reading (decoding) and reading comprehension. Other tests explored the impact of specific technologies and online ‘deaf‐ friendly’ materials. Staff and local administrators helped in a difficult time with the recruitment of schools to take part in the research. Questionnaires were completed by deaf pupils and teachers. Deaf teacher/researchers took part in some of the processes. Pupils involved in the BAS and NARA tests were divided into three groups ([a] hearing impaired with special IT support programme; [b] hearing impaired without such a programme; [c] no hearing impairment and no special programme)

Little or no reading improvement was found across the time scale in groups [b] and [c]). Group [a] significantly improved their reading accuracy. There are some constraints, however, on conclusions drawn from these tests: Group sizes were relatively small, given the difficulties in recruiting participants. By the second round of tests some pupils had left (e.g. to other schools), and groups were not ideally matched for age. Future studies would benefit from using smaller age ranges within groups, and levels of pupils’ hearing difficulty should be estimated and used as controlling variables, since in the groups in this project the pupils’ difficulties ranged from profound to mild hearing impairment.

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