[PS-2.21] The role of phonological and orthographic representation in learning to read for deaf children with and without cochlear implants

Alegría, J. 1 , Carrillo, M. 2 , González, V. 3 & Domínguez, A. B. 3

1 Universidad Libre de Bruselas
2 Universidad de Murcia
3 Universidad de Salamanca

The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between cochlear implants (CIs) and reading acquisition and attempts to determine the role played by phonological and orthographic resources in this process. Four groups of deaf children were examined, two with implants (early and late), and two without implants (one had moderate hearing loss, and the other profound hearing loss). A hearing group was included to control for Age and for Reading level. A reading test, a lexical spelling task, and three meta-phonological tasks were administered.
The results show that reading levels achieved by deaf children strongly depend on phonological ability. CIs play a major role, with children with early implants obtaining the best results. Reading performance in the groups of deaf children basically reflects the quality of their phonological ability, with children with a profound hearing loss and without implants behind the group with a moderate hearing loss. Finally, the present study shows that deaf children possess a rich orthographic lexicon, even richer than that of hearing children of the same reading level. These orthographic representations are stored using the corresponding phonological representations, which in turn are improved because of the orthographic information provided by the reading activity itself.