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Phonological awareness and decoding in deaf/hard-of-hearing students who use visual phonics

Visual phonics, a system of 45 hand and symbol cues that represent the phonemes of spoken English, has been used as a tool in literacy instruction with deaf/hard-of-hearing (DHH) students for over 20 years. Despite years of anecdotal support, there is relatively little published evidence of its impact on reading achievement. This study was designed to examine the relationship between performance on a phonological awareness task, performance on a decoding task, reading ability, and length of time in literacy instruction with visual phonics for 10 DHH kindergarten through Grade 3 students receiving academic instruction with sign-supported English and American Sign Language. Findings indicate that these students were able to use phonological information to make rhyme judgments and to decode; however, no relationship between performance on reading ability and length of time in literacy instruction with visual phonics was found.

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