Enriching Deaf Children’s American Sign Language Phonological Awareness: A Quasi-Experimental Study

Leala Holcomb, Debbie Golos, Annie Moses, Anna Broadrick, Enriching Deaf Children’s American Sign Language Phonological Awareness: A Quasi-Experimental Study, The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, Volume 27, Issue 1, January 2022, Pages 26–36, https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enab028

With the knowledge that deaf children benefit from early exposure to signed language, questions are raised about the role of specific types of language input that are beneficial in early childhood classrooms. This quasi-experimental study explores the effects of ASL rhyme, rhythm, and handshape awareness activities on 4- to 6-year-old deaf children’s ASL phonological awareness. Deaf children received three-week structured activities and four-week teacher-choice activities that targeted handshape awareness. Results yielded evidence that interventions as brief as 12 minutes daily for up to 2 months can produce positive effects on deaf children’s phonological awareness. Furthermore, although the intervention focused only on handshape awareness, children’s positive gains on the ASL Phonological Awareness Test suggests one targeted phonological awareness skill (e.g., handshape) may generalize to other phonological awareness skills (e.g., location and movement). Further investigation is needed on the relationship between ASL phonological awareness and overall language and literacy skills in both ASL and English.

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