Literacy Syllabus

Team Members:

Richard Nowell, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Team Leader)

Bill Brelje, Lewis and Clark University

Dave Dolman, Barton College

Pam Luft, Kent State University

Edward Marlatt, Adelphi University

Sara Schley, Hunter College


†††††††† The issue of literacy is one that transcends most of the other issues in the education of students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Whatever the specific goals of an educational program, the philosophy of communication, and specific placement, professionals agree, in general, that the ability to be able to read and write English is a major goal of educational programs for these students. That does not mean that there is unanimity in how to reach that goal. Some teacher education programs may emphasize one or another approach to teaching reading and writing English, while others may take a more eclectic approach.

††††† Literacy may also include the ability to understand and to express oneself fluently in American Sign Language. Because the area of sign language is included in another of these sample syllabi, the teaching of sign systems is not included in this syllabus. On the other hand, approaches to literacy in English may include the use of ASL as a first language or as a parallel language. The use of visual forms of English, such as fingerspelling or signing, may also be an integral part of a teacherís method of teaching English.

††††† Despite our best efforts, we still have a long way to go before we can be satisfied with our success in teaching English. Technology offers us one more channel for addressing the teaching of reading and writing English. Technology can improve our education of future teachers and their efforts in teaching English to their students. A primary emphasis in this syllabus is the inclusion of technology in preparing future teachers to teach reading and writing and assisting those future teachers to incorporate technology in their own teaching.


††††† This syllabus has been prepared to provide a general model for teacher educators preparing courses in colleges and universities in the area of literacy for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, here defined as the ability to read and write English. The assumption is that the students in courses using such a syllabus are primarily those preparing to teach deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The syllabus includes methods of integrating technology in most aspects of the teaching of such a course, as well as in the techniques that students are learning to use in their own classrooms.


CED/CEC Knowledge and skills areas:

††††† This syllabus addresses the following knowledge and skill areas described by the CED and CEC as critical for the certification of individuals and the accreditation of teacher education programs:

6. The impact of various educational placement options (from the perspective of the needs of any given child who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing and consistent with program philosophy) with regard to cultural identity, linguistic, academic, and social-emotional development.

9. Identify the major contributors to the growth and improvement of past-to-present knowledge and practice in the field of education of children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

10.Communication features (visual, spatial, tactile, and/or auditory) salient to the learner who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing which are necessary to enhance cognitive, emotional and social development.

11.Research in cognition related to children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

14. Effects of families and/or primary caregivers on the overall development of the child who is Deaf/Hard of


15. Effect that onset of hearing loss, age of identification, and provision of services have on the development of the child who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

16. Impact of early comprehensible communication has on the development of the child who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

17. Recognition that being deaf or hard of hearing alone does not necessarily preclude normal academic development, cognitive development, or communication ability.

18. The differences in quality and quantity of incidental language/learning experiences which Deaf/Hard of Hearing children may experience.

19.Effects of sensory input on development of language and cognition of children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

22.Legal provisions, regulations and guidelines regarding unbiased diagnostic assessment, and use of instructional assessment measures with students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

26. Use exceptionality-specific assessment instruments (e.g., SAT-HI, TERA-DHH, FSST) appropriate for students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

27.Sources of specialized materials for students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

28. Components of the non-linguistic and linguistic communication which students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing use.

29. The procedures and technologies required to educate students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing under one or more of the existing modes or philosophies (consistent with program philosophy).

31. Current theories of how languages (e.g., ASL and English) develop in children who are hearing and who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

32.Subject matter and practices used in general education across content areas.

33. Ways to facilitate cognitive and communicative development in students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing (e.g., visual saliency) consistent with program philosophy.

35. Research supported instructional strategies and practice for teaching students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

36.Demonstrate proficiency in the language(s) the beginning teacher will use to instruct students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

38.Select, design, produce, and utilize media, materials, and resources required to educate students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing under one or more of the existing modes or philosophies (e.g., bilingual-bicultural, total communication, aural/oral).

40. Modify instructional process and classroom environment to meet the physical, cognitive, cultural, and communication needs of the child who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing (e.g., teachers's style, acoustic environment, availability of support services, availability of appropriate technologies).

41. Facilitate independent communication behavior in children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

42. Apply first and second language teaching strategies (e.g., English through ASL or ESL) appropriate to the needs of the individual student who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing and consistent with program philosophy.

43. Demonstrate ability to modify incidental language experiences to fit the visual and other sensory needs of children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

44.Provide appropriate activities for students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing to promote literacy in English and/or ASL.


Literacy: Teaching Reading and Writing to Students Who are Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

Model Syllabus


Introductory survey course in deafness

Language development

Teaching language to students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing

(Ideally students would first have a basic course in literacy, including theories of reading and general approaches to teaching reading and writing, so that this course could concentrate on methods of teaching reading and writing.)

Texts :

††††† (Rather than attempt to specify a text to be used with this course, the following are texts that are available and have been used in teacher education programs in the area of literacy instruction for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.)

The following seem to be the texts related most specifically to teaching students with hearing loss:

††††† French, M.M. (1999). Starting with assessment. A developmental approach to deaf children's literacy. Washington, DC: Pre-College National Mission Programs, Gallaudet University (with the Toolkit Appendices).

††††† Luetke-Stahlman, B. (1998). Language issues in deaf education. Hillsboro, OR: Butte Publications.

††††† Mashdie, S. M. (1995). Educating deaf children bilingually. Washington, DC: Gallaudet.

McAnally, P. L., Quigley, S. P., & Rose, S. (1999). Reading practices with deaf learners. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

††††† Paul, P.V. (1998). Literacy and deafness: The development of reading, writing, and literate thought. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

††††† Schirmer, Barbara R. (2000).Language & literacy development in Children who are deaf (2nd Ed.).Boston:Allyn and Bacon.

Special Literacy Issue, Perspectives in Education and Deafness, May/June, 1999.

The following texts are used as supplemental texts and relate primarily to other language issues in students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and to general reading issues:

††††† Butler, K.G. (Ed.) (1994). Hearing impairments and language disorders. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen.

Hoffman, J.V. (1988). Understanding reading instruction. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

KDES Preschool Faculty and Staff. KDES curriculum guide: preschool curriculum guide. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College Programs.

Livingston, S. (1997). Rethinking the education of deaf children. Heineman Publishers.

Luetke-Stahlman, B. (1998). Langauge across the curriculum. Hillsboro, OR: Butte.

May, F. B. (1990). Reading communication: An intereactive approach (3rd ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill.

McAnally, P. L., Quigley, S. P., & Rose, S. (1994). Langauge learning practices with deaf children. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

††††† MSSD English Faculty. Sharing ideas: The reading and writing series. Washington, DC: Gallaudet.

Rhodes, Lynn, Dudley-Marling, Curt, Readers and writers with a difference. Heinneman Press.

Rieben, L., & Perfetti, C.A. (Eds.) (1991). Learning to read: Basic research and its implications. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Schumm, J.S. (1999). Adapting reading and math materials for the inclusive classroom. Reston, VA: CEC.

Walker, B.J. (1996). Diagnostic Teaching of Reading. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Walker, B. (2000). Diagnostic teaching of reading: Techniques for instruction and assessment, Prentice Hall, Inc.


Instructional Objectives:

(The following are a sample of instructional objectives that could be used for a course in literacy. The numbers following each objective refer to the CED knowledge and skills delineated above.)

Students will be able to:

1. Compare and contrast the theoretical, philosophical, and implementation differences between top-down, bottom-up, and combined/balanced approaches to reading instruction; and process- versus product-based theories of writing instruction. (9; 10;14; 29; 31; 32; 35)

2. Describe the developmental patterns and characteristics of successful deaf readers and writers, taking into account level/pattern of hearing loss and learning profile (or presence of other disabilities) and how teachers can assess the acquisition of these skills and patterns using both formal and informal measures. (10; 11; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 22; 26; 27; 29; 31; 33; 35)

3. Describe the relationships between language, reading, and writing skill development and instruction across all age/grade levels: emergent literacy through secondary skill-refinement, importance of schema theory, and use of individualized tutoring programs with D/HH students. (10; 11; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 27; 28; 29; 31; 32; 33; 35)

4. Describe the difficulties and barriers, applications, and modifications of the top-down and bottom-up, process vs. product approaches to literacy instruction with D/HH students including direct instruction strategies, cooperative learning, technology-enhanced strategies, reading/writing workshops, and individual/peer conferencing to address skill development: word-attack/phonics, comprehension, retelling/summarizing, and reflecting/sharing strategies for reading; spelling, grammar, punctuation, editing, revising, and publishing strategies for writing. (9; 10; 11; 16; 17; 22; 27; 28; 29; 31; 32; 33; 35; 40; 44)

5. Describe literacy strategies across age/grade levels including (but not limited to): LEA, read-aloud, sustained silent reading programs, basal and literature-based approaches, and content-area strategies; pre-reading strategies (previews, anticipation guides, semantic maps, graphic organizers, concept attainment), guided reading strategies (DRTA, ReQuest, Concept-Text-Application, GIST, cognitive frames), post-reading comprehension strategies (retelling, story boards/maps/frames, drama, literacy groups, literature journals, conferencing). (9; 10; 11; 27; 28; 29; 32; 33; 35; 40; 43; 44)

6. Develop a conceptually-based, thematic integrated literacy unit for one age level demonstrating appropriate instructional planning, materials design, and adaptation to the needs of D/HH students that incorporates use of technology (e.g., internet research strategies, appropriate use of online resources, online courseware, presentation software, word processing, desktop publishing, data collection and storage, digital cameras and scanners, image editing software, basic trouble-shooting, electronic pen pals/journals/ listservs). (27; 29; 32; 33; 35; 36; 38; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44)

7. Demonstrate professionalism at classroom and practicum sites resulting in positive evaluations from practicum and teaching faculty regarding their conduct, interaction, maturity, responsibility, and performance; students also will need to demonstrate collaborative skills with others and abilities to express themselves orally, in writing, and in sign language all of which will be used in evaluating their readiness and appropriateness as future educators. (6; 22; 33; 36; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44)


Course Topics

The following course topics are one example of the content of a course on methods of developing literacy in children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing:

    I.         Connecting language and literacy (children learning from adults, language abilities and preliteracy, home practices, etc.)

II.         General reading processes: Bottom Up

III.         General reading processes: Top Down

IV.         General reading processes: Interactive

V.         Deaf students and reading processes

VI.         Pre-reading/writing/spelling -- Theory and practice

VII.         Whole language and the deaf student

VIII.         Essential reading practices (e.g., individual and group reading, comprehension strategies, word attack, DRTA, LEA, cloze, coop. learning, shared reading, etc.)

IX.         Essential writing practices (e.g., writing process, selective correction, mechanics/conventions, ENFI, Dialogue journals, coop. learning, etc.)

X.         Bilingual/bimodal instruction, influence of ASL skill/knowledge

XI.         Assessment I: goals of assessments, standardized materials (e.g., SAT-HI), cloze, miscue anal., scored retelling

XII.         Assessment II: ongoing strategies, portfolios, collaborative assessment, informal tools, etc.

XIII.         Bringing it all together

Some of the activities that would be included in these topics that are not specifically related to technology include:


Dialogue Journals (students can do with children, *or* can be

required part of course -- perhaps email dialogue with


Developing lessons, units

Shared Reading -- learning from deaf adults, students developing

skills/strategies for shared reading



Technology for a Course on Developing Literacy in Children Who are Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

A variety of technological techniques can be used in the development of literacy skills in students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Many of these can be taught to the college student preparing to become a teacher by using them in the college classroom.

General organization:

††††† The curriculum for a teacher education course in literacy can be organized using software designed specifically for such a purpose, such as WebCT.

Instructors may choose instead to develop a web page for their course. This web page may include the latest information for the class, publication of studentsí best work or rough drafts of work which could be edited by other students, reviews of favorite books by students in the class, links to web sites dealing with favorite books read (for example, a link to pioneer web sites after reading Little House on the Prairie).

††††† General presentation software, such as PowerPoint, may be incorporated in these organizations or simply used as one technique to present information in the classroom. PowerPoint shows can be saved to a web page or WebCT content page.

Other technology for the course:

††††† There is a variety of technology that can greatly enhance the college classroom and that of the instructor of reading and writing for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The following are some examples.




Delpit, L. (1995). Other peoplesí children. New York, NY: New Press.

Fisher, S. The writerís workshop. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College Programs.

French, M., Hallau, M., & Ewoldt, C. KDES curriculum guide: Language arts. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College Programs.

††††† Hodges, J., Horner, W., Webb, S., Miller, R. (1994). Harbrace College handbook. New York: Harbrook Brace College Publishers.

Hoff- Ginsberg, E. (1997). Language Development. Pacific Grove, CA, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Kameenui, E., & Simmons, C.C. (1999). Toward successful inclusion of students with disabilities: The architecture of instruction, Reston, VA, CEC.

King, C.M., & Quigley, S. P. (1985). Reading and deafness. San Diego, CA: College-Hill Press.

††††† Kretschmer, R. E. (Ed.) (1982). Reading and the hearing-impaired individual. Washington, DC: AG Bell.

Lenz, K. and Schumaker, J. (1999). Adapting language arts, social studies, and science: Materials for the inclusive classroom. Reston, VA: CEC.

MacNeil, R. (1989). Wordstruck: A memoir. NY: Viking Press.

McCormick, L., Loeb, D.F., & Schiefelbusch, R.L. (1997). Supporting children with communicative difficulties in inclusive settings. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

McLaughlin, S. (1998). Introduction to Language Development. San Diego: Singular Publishing Group, Inc.

††††† MSSD English Faculty. A closer look: The English program at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College Programs.

Nippold, N.A. (1998). Later language development: The school-age and adolescent years, Austin, Texas, PRO-ED, Inc.

Opdycke, J., (1965). Harper's English Grammar. New York: Harper & Row.

Perspectives: Whole Language Folio II, Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College Programs.

Peyton, J. K., & French, M. (1997). Making English accessible: Using electronic networking for interaction in the classroom. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College Programs.

Quigley, S. P., & Paul, P. V. (1984). Language and deafness. San Diego, CA: College Hill.

Ramsey, C. L. (1997). Deaf Children in Public Schools. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Smith, M.D. (1997). The art of itinerant teaching for teachers of the deaf & hard of hearing. Hillsboro, OR: Butte Publications.

Schwebel, M. & Raph, J. (eds.) (1973). Piaget in the classroom. New York, NY: Basic Books Inc.

Smith, F. (1971). Understanding reading. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Valli, C., & Lucas, C. (1992) Linquistics of ASL, Washington, DC: Gallaudet.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press.

Welsh-Charrier, C.C (nd). The Literature Journal. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Pre-College Programs.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by Design. ASCD.

Woods, M. L., & Moe, A. J. (1995). Analytical Reading Inventor. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Publishing.



{Journal articles accessed through ERIC}

American annals of the deaf. Gallaudet University Press, 800 Florida Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002. (

Journal of deaf studies and deafness. Oxford University Press, 2001 Evans Road, Cary, NC 27513. (

Perspectives in education and deafness. Pre-College National Mission Programs (Gallaudet University), 800 Florida Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002. (

Volta review. A. G. Bell Association for the Deaf, 3417 Volta Place NW, Washington, DC 20007. (



Association of College Educators/DHH


Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf


American Sign Language Teachers Association




ERIC Database/Articles


Gallaudet University


National Association of the Deaf


National Technical Institute of the Deaf