Literacy in Deaf Education

The importance of teaching literacy to those who are deaf cannot be understated. Literacy is best defined as the ability to read, write, and possessing the knowledge to apply critical thinking skills to the written word. Deafness should never be an excuse to slack on literacy, but for those unfamiliar with the hearing impaired, it might seem difficult to obtain. Literacy is not an unattainable goal and children born deaf should have every opportunity to be taught and exposed to the written word and literacy. Though some deaf people may feel they have trouble communicating with the hearing community, it is often not so with literacy. Deaf culture embraces literacy and many find they enjoy the beauty of the written word in a variety of forms. Ensuring there is proper deaf education in the early elementary years will make certain children are well trained in literacy. There are many educational opportunities available for the deaf community and it is recommended that literacy becomes an educational priority.

Some question how a person born deaf can comprehend phonetic sounds in order to master reading. As deaf people learn sign language, literacy is often taught in a fashion that combines reading and sign. Children learn to associate words in print with words they are familiar with in sign. Where hearing children may practice sounding out words, deaf education bridges the gap through sign language. It is important for all parents, and those that work with the deaf community to understand that hearing impairment is not a sign of lower intelligence. It is not in any way, shape, or form a mental defect. Deaf people and children are not limited by what they can learn, provided there are no underlying medical conditions. Deafness, by itself, does not indicate a lack of intelligence or inability to learn. Deaf culture is rich with language, music, the beauty of poetry, and the arts. Quality deaf education in the early years is crucial for those who will live a fulfilling life that embraces language in all of its forms.

Children born deaf are not prohibited from becoming literate. Tools such as finger spelling, sign language and the written word are used in conjunction to help those dealing with deafness make connections. Many deaf people have overcome obstacles and have achieved greatness. Once those in the deaf community master the written word, they will find the world opens many new opportunities. Deaf culture is enhanced through literature and every child who deals with hearing impairment should be afforded the advantage of literary education.