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Arnold School of Public Health


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Early Language and Literacy Acquisition in Children with Hearing Loss

Funding:

National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (5R03DC014535; PI: Werfel)

Aims:

Despite technological advances in amplification, literacy achievement for children with hearing loss who use spoken language is alarmingly low. Although some children with hearing loss who use spoken language achieve literacy levels within the average range (Moog, 2002), over 60% of early-implanted children read below an eighth-grade level in high school (Geers & Hayes, 2011). Adults with low literacy achievement are less likely than adults with average literacy achievement to graduate high school, attend college, and be employed full-time (Kutner et al., 2007). After high school, only about half of individuals with hearing loss are competitively employed (Newman et al., 2009). It is vital, therefore, to take steps to optimize literacy outcomes for all children with hearing loss to ensure academic and occupational success. This study evaluates the development of oral language, phonological processing, and orthographic knowledge of preschool children with hearing loss who use spoken language and how these early skills relate literacy achievement at age 6. This can help to better predict which preschool children with hearing loss are at-risk for literacy deficits.

The ELLA study has two main goals:

Goal 1: Determine the developmental trajectories of oral language, phonological processing, and orthographic knowledge for children with hearing loss across the preschool years.goal1

Goal 2: Determine whether preschool oral language, phonological processing, and orthographic knowledge predict unique variance in literacy achievement in children with hearing loss at age 6.

goal2

 

Impact: This study will provide a better understanding about how early language, phonological, and orthographic skills develop and contribute to literacy achievement in children with hearing loss. Such knowledge will have a significant long-term impact on early identification of preschool children with hearing loss who are most at-risk for later spoken language and literacy deficits.

Presentations and Publications from the ELLA Study:

Papers

Werfel, K. L. (2017). Emergent literacy skills in preschool children with hearing loss who use spoken language: Initial findings from the ELLA study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 48, 249-259. doi: 10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0023

Werfel, K. L., & Douglas, M. (2017). Are we slipping them through the cracks? The insufficiency of norm-referenced assessments for identifying language weaknesses in children with hearing loss. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 2(SIG 9), 43-53. doi:10.1044/persp2.SIG9.43

Presentations

Bassard, S., Squires, C., & Werfel, K. L. (2018, June). Above-average nonverbal intelligence as a protective factor in language acquisition for children with hearing loss. Annual Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, WI.

Reynolds, G., & Werfel, K. L. (2018, June). The importance of early morphosyntax on later literacy outcomes for children with hearing loss: Initial findings. Annual Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, WI.

Metze, E., & Werfel, K. L. (2017, November). Development of rhyme and initial sound matching in preschool children with hearing loss. Poster presented at Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Los Angeles, CA.

Werfel, K. L. (2017, July). Growth in emergent literacy skills of preschool children with and without hearing loss. Poster presented at Annual Conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Werfel, K. L., Metze, E., Straley, S., & Todd, B. (2017, June). Growth in expressive language skills of preschool children with and without hearing loss. Poster presented at the Annual Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, WI.

Werfel, K. L., Straley, S., Hendricks, A. E., Pemberton, S., Pound, A., & Douglass, L. (2016, November). Initial findings from the Early Language and Language Acquisition in Children with Hearing Loss (ELLA) study. Oral session presented at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Pound, A., Straley, S., Pemberton, S., & Werfel, K. L. (2016, November). Grammatical morphology in conversational language samples of preschool children with and without hearing loss. Poster presented at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Philadelphia, PA

Werfel, K. L., Straley, S., Hendricks, A. E., & Pemberton, S. (2016, June). Early language and literacy acquisition of children with hearing lossPoster presented at the Annual Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, WI.