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2023 NAATD Visiting Fellow: Dr Connie Mayer

This full day workshop is a unique opportunity to learn from one of the research and thought leaders in Deaf Education.

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Key Details

Course Code
Start Date
3 – 4 February 2023
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Course Information

This full day workshop is being offered by the National Association of Australian Teachers of the Deaf (NAATD) and is offered free to EDSA NSW members. You can choose to join us at Opal Cove Resort (Coffs Harbour) on Friday 3 February or Online on Saturday 4 February.

Literacy Achievement of Deaf Learners: Challenging the Fourth Grade Ceiling 9am-12pm

Historically literacy outcomes for deaf students have been much poorer than those of their hearing age peers with reports that they graduate from high school reading at a 4th grade level. This poor level of performance has remained remarkably consistent over time with little change since the early twentieth century. However, two major shifts have converged to shape the field of deaf education over the past three decades - the widespread implementation of newborn hearing screening and improvements in hearing technologies including cochlear implantation. The impact of these two interacting factors is resulting in literacy outcomes for deaf students that far surpass those that were possible in the past. This marks a major shift in what we can expect from deaf students in 2022- raising expectations that age-appropriate literacy outcomes could be a goal for many more deaf children.

In this presentation we will examine the available research evidence including a recent Canadian study (Mayer et al., 2021) to consider the extent to which improved reading outcomes have been achieved and to identify the factors that contribute to this improved performance (e.g., use of hearing technologies, language level, communication modality, additional disabilities, nature of early intervention). Implications for future research, policy and pedagogical practice will also be discussed.

Written Forms of Signed Language: A Route to Literacy for Deaf Learners? 1-4pm

Signed languages are unwritten. They are not unique in this regard, as it is estimated that over half of the world’s languages do not have a developed written form. While there have been attempts to develop written systems for signed languages, none have been widely used or adopted. However, a case has been made for why efforts should be renewed to develop a written signed language (Gruskin, 2017) or systems for writing for signs (e.g., ASL-phabet). Based on the claim that literacy-related skills transfer across languages, it is suggested that developing competence in a written form of a natural signed language (e.g., American Sign Language) will yield improved outcomes in written English.

Via an examination of the evidence base with respect to linguistic interdependence in spoken language contexts, we will consider the extent to which this route might be viable as a path to literacy, particularly in the current context in the field (i.e., earlier identification, increased access to spoken language via hearing technologies) when other routes may be more workable from pragmatic, theoretical and evidence-based perspectives.



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