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Arnold School of Public Health

Print-Referencing Behaviors of Parents of Preschoolers with Hearing Loss

Children with hearing loss have considerably lower literacy achievement than children with normal hearing. Print referencing improves emergent literacy knowledge of children with normal hearing but has yet to be evaluated with children with hearing loss.

The purpose of this preliminary study was to compare print-referencing behaviors during shared book reading of parents of children with hearing loss to parents of children with normal hearing. Parents were videotaped reading two storybooks (one with high print salience and one with low print salience) to their child. The parent-child book-reading interactions were transcribed from videos and coded for print-referencing and illustration-referencing behaviors.

Parents of children with normal hearing were much more likely to use print referencing than parents of children with hearing loss. Overall, parents were more likely to use illustration referencing than print referencing. Parents’ use of print referencing strategies differed across print salience of storybooks. Within high print salience books, parents were most likely to use print-referencing behaviors with contextualized print. Given the substantially lower use of print-referencing behaviors by parents of children with hearing loss, future research should evaluate the effectiveness of parent training in this area.


Freeman, M., & Werfel, K. L. (2013, July). Print-referencing behaviors of parents of children with hearing loss. Poster presented at the 2012 Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach Student Research Symposium, Nashville, TN.

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