The nature and role of story schemata in the reading of severely deaf children
Children with severe, prelingual deafness experience considerable problems in reading and learning to read. Moreover, it has been widely reported that the deaf rarely develop in reading beyond a reading age of nine years. The research reported examines these claims and provides evidence that: (1) deaf children do acquire higher-order, top-down, reading skills; (2) deaf children possess undifferentiated story schemata in both reading and non-reading story situations and these limit their top-down processing of whole stories; and (3) deaf children can acquire more differentiated story schemata and can learn to use these to read more 'schematically' at the whole-passage level. The elements of a model for the reading of the deaf are presented and its implications for the teaching of the deaf are discussed. It is suggested that in teaching the deaf to read, emphasis should be placed upon their top-down reading strengths.