Language Characteristics of Deaf/Hearing Impaired Children
Key Words: Information, Deafness Related Issues, Deaf Education
Gaines, R., & Halpern-Felsher, B. L. (1995). Language preference and
communication development of a hearing and deaf twin pair. American Annals of the
Deaf, 140(1), 47-55.
Kent State University
Language characteristics of deaf/HI students vary as all children's characteristics
do. However, the article "Language preference and communication development of a
hearing and deaf twin pair," from the American Annals of the Deaf shows that language
and communication development can be enhanced by preference and environmental
factors. The twins being studied are both girls, one is Ann, who was healthy until the age
of 7 months, when she contracted pneumococcal meningitis and became binaurally
profoundly deaf (Gaines & Halpern-Felsher, 1995). The other twin is Dianne, who is
hearing and healthy. According to Gaines and Halpern-Felsher, the study examines the
communication development and language preferences of twin girls who are alike in age,
genetic structure, and home and school environment, but who are different in one
particular way: hearing ability (1995).
At the age of 13 months, the twins were brought to HI CHIPS program, to educate
them both at the same place. They were taught both vocal and sign language. The twins
were videotaped over a 20-month period, in monthly intervals (Gaines & Halpern-Felsher, 1995). All communication was recorded and categorized by style. The language
preference analysis showed that Ann preferred nonvocal language, and that Diane used
vocal language. The bulk of the hand gestures were used in the request category by both
twins. However, body movements were preferred much more by Ann.
According to Gaines and Halpern-Felsher, the study showed that both twins had
the ability to learn language and to communicate (1995). This shows that deafness does
not prevent language acquisition. Although Ann was not as successful in vocal language,
she still was able to develop appropriate visual language that was parallel to her
chronological age. Diane was able to use both forms of language, visual and vocal, but
preferred vocal. However, with knowing both forms, she helped her twin sister by
communicating with her, which made Ann's language development more accelerated.
This observation shows that early intervention and diverse modes of communication can
benefit the development of language, especially for the deaf.
- Language characteristics vary from person to person, but environment and
preference play a crucial role.
- Deafness does not prevent language acquisition.
- Early intervention and diverse communication are key to the development
of language for the deaf.
Uploaded by: Jessica Soltesz, Kent State University, Deaf Education Major