No AccessLanguage, Speech, and Hearing Services in SchoolsResearch Article28 Jan 2019

Orthographic Learning in Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing


    The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationship between orthographic learning and language, reading, and cognitive skills in 9-year-old children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) and to compare their performance to age-matched typically hearing (TH) controls.


    Eighteen children diagnosed with moderate-to-profound hearing loss who use hearing aids and/or cochlear implants participated. Their performance was compared with 35 age-matched controls with typical hearing. Orthographic learning was evaluated using a spelling task and a recognition task. The children were assessed on measures of reading ability, language, working memory, and paired-associate learning.


    On average, the DHH group performed more poorly than the TH controls on the spelling measure of orthographic learning, but not on the recognition measure. For both groups of children, there were significant correlations between orthographic learning and phonological decoding and between visual–verbal paired-associate learning and orthographic learning.


    Although the children who are DHH had lower scores in the spelling test of orthographic learning than their TH peers, measures of their reading ability revealed that they acquired orthographic representations successfully. The results are consistent with the self-teaching hypothesis in suggesting that phonological decoding is important for orthographic learning.


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