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Learning signs early helps deaf children read

Comparing literacy skills among four groups of children in four countries helps conclude that learning signs early helps deaf children read.
A group of four children of varying ages cluster together, smiling at the camera. One child makes the sign for "I love you".

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Researchers who study literacy among deaf and hard of hearing students have proposed various theories to explain what helps their reading skills. This study sought to answer which common theories are correct. Researchers studied four groups of children in four countries. The four groups included hearing students with dyslexia, hearing students without dyslexia, deaf students who were early signers, and deaf students who learned sign language later. The languages across the four countries included English, Hebrew, German, and Turkish. Researchers concluded that learning signs early helps deaf children read. Deaf students who started signing at an earlier age had better literacy than deaf students who learned signs later.

The full journal article is not available online for free. You can purchase a digital copy at the link at a cost. Or you can ask your best library if they subscribe to the Reading and Writing Quarterly. We were unable to assess whether the article is accessible for people using screen reading software.

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