Cracking the code to the letterbox: phonological awareness and reading in deaf children
Compared to their hearing peers, deaf children struggle more to develop age-appropriate reading abilities. This pioneering study will combine existing assessments and three newly developed experiments in order to uncover the potential networks and mechanisms that can lead to a more successful reading comprehension outcome in deaf children. The proposed project will explore possible bottom-up phonological gateways to facilitate the decoding of written language elements. It will investigate the relationships between reading, Flemish Sign Language (VGT) sign phonological awareness, fingerspelling, and speechreading. To this day the impact of these phonological skills on the reading development of Flemish deaf signing children remains unknown. Furthermore, what do these new insights teach us conceptually about the reading triangle paradigm? This research will be conducted by applying an experimental cross-sectional and longitudinal design, followed by an analysis using Structural Equation Modeling.This study will be the first of its kind to examine deaf childrenU+2019s level of phonology through VGT sign phonological awareness, fingerspelling and speechreading. These linguistic featuresU+2019 mutual relationships, and their potential predictive nature on deaf signing childrenU+2019s reading success will be discussed.