Most Deaf Individuals Can Sign In Exact English But Do Not Write It Properly

Keywords: Instructional Strategies, Language,K-12

Writing Submited by: Carrie McFalane

I. Problem

A.Most deaf individuals can sign in exact English but do not write it properly.
B. The majority of deaf individuals are able to speak in proper English form but are unable to write it.
C. They are not taught to write for meaning.
D. The focus of writing is on letter formation.
E. Most deaf individuals don't know written word order.
F. Most deaf individuals have difficulty using internal responses within their writing.

  1. Expression of feeling is absent in their writing.
  2. Explanation for actions in the narrative are absent.
G. Most deaf individuals write with syntactic errors.
H. Most deaf individuals have mechanical errors in writings.
  1. Omissions of articles are present.
  2. Omissions of endings for words.

II. Causes

A. Writing has tended to be assigned rather than taught.
B. Teachers are often inconsistent with their evaluations.

  1. They do not consistently focus on the same problem.
  2. They may over look problems to focus on a specific problem, which gives confusing information to the student.
C. Students success often depends on how well they interpreted what the teacher wanted for the assignment.
D. Teacher expectations aren't directly taught.
E. The majority of deaf students do not revise their work.
F. Teachers have too much control over the writing which does not allow students to be creative and explore the English language.
  1. Teachers normally specify topic.
  2. Teachers normally specify formats.

III. Current response

A. Teachers focus in on grammatical errors.

  1. Teachers tend to only note students negatives.
  2. Teachers usually don't have students correct their own work.
  3. Teachers often supply the correction for the student.
B. Teachers often make excuses for their students performance.
C. Teachers grow to expect less from their students.
D. Teachers use spontaneous writing but still give topic.
E. Students keep daily journals about school related activities.
F. Teachers concentrate on having students acquire more vocabulary words.
G. Teachers focus on their students spelling abilities.
  1. They create word banks for their students.
  2. They stress the use of a dictionary.
H. Students write about items of little relevance to them.
I. Students compete with others in writing contests.
  1. The students write slogans for companies.
  2. The students write essays on various topics.
J. The teachers just want their students to write.

IV. Alternative response

A. Have the students write for meaning.
B. The teacher may suggest the activity but gives the item to the student.

  1. The student then has freedom to choose the topic.
  2. The student then can decide on how to write.
C. Teachers should have the students begin to write about items that are personal to each individual student.
  1. Students could write about their family.
  2. Students could write about a trip they took.
  3. Students could write an autobiography about themselves.

D. Teachers should have students writing about abstract items once the students are confident and exhibit foundation writing skills.
E. Teachers should evaluate the students writing formatively.
F. Modify popular games in order to teach writing.
G. Ask that the students keep a journal about anything they want as long as they are writing in it at least once a day.

V. Questions and Insights
A. Questions

  1. Why aren't teachers teaching their students how to write?
  2. Why are all teachers making excuses for their students abilities or lack of abilities?
  3. Are deaf students ever encouraged to participate in the Young Authors Conference?
  4. If teachers spent more time correcting their students signed english would it make a difference in their writing skills?
  5. Would their writing skills improve if they had reinforcing interactions at home from their parents?
  6. Is it fair to assess their writing skills in English when they are most comfortable communicating in sign?

B. Insights
  1. I would have my students write outlines before writing a draft of a paper.
  2. I would create or modify games that they already know the concept of and use it teach my students how to write.
  3. I will have my students write a paper once a month.


Florio-Ruane, S. (1985). Learning About Language In Classrooms.
The Volta Review, 87(5), 47-54.

Hamilton, H. & Jones, G. (1989). The Box: A Low-Error Method For
Teaching English Skills To Hearing Impaired Students. The Volta Review, 91(1), 19-26.

Teller, H. & Lindsey, J. (1987). Developing The Hearing-Impaired Students Writing Skills: Martin Buber's Mutuality In Today's
Classroom. American Annuals Of The Deaf, 132(6), 383-385.

Suggested Reading List

Gormley, K. & Saeachan-Deily, A. (1987). Evaluating Hearing Impaired Students Writing: A Practical Approach. The Volta
Review, 89(3), 157-165.

Israelite, N. & Schloss, P. & Smith, M. (1986). Teaching Proverb Use Through A Modified Table Game. The Volta Review, 88(4),
195- 208.

Klecan-Aker, J. & Blondau, R. (1990). An Examination Of The Written Stories Of Hearing-Impaired School Age Children.
The Volta Review, 92(6), 275-282.

Schirmer, B. (1989). Relationship Between Imaginative Play And Language Development In Hearing-Impaired Children.
American Annuals Of The Deaf, 134(3), 219-222.

Yoshinaga-Itano, C. & Snyder, L. (1985). Form And Meaning In The Written Language Of Hearing-Impaired Children. The Volta Review, 87(5) 75-89.

Uploaded by: Jodi Gray/KSU/Deaf Education Major