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The relationship between speechreading and reading in deaf children: outcomes from an RCT

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Speechreading (lipreading) is the ability to understand speech in the absence of sound. For most deaf people, speechreading is the primary route to access spoken language. Longitudinal studies have provided evidence for the importance of speechreading (lipreading) as a predictor of variance in reading outcomes in deaf children (Kyle and Harris, 2010; 2011). On the basis of our previous behavioural and neuroimaging research we propose that speechreading provides deaf children with visual information about the sublexical structure of spoken English and that this information helps deaf children to establish amodal phonological representations of speech which they can bring to the task of learning to read. We have previously found that deaf adults but not deaf children outperform their hearing peers on tests of speechreading (Kyle et al., 2013; Mohammed et al., 2006). This pattern of results suggests that increased experience of understanding silent speech leads to improvements in speechreading ability, and therefore raises the possibility that speechreading ability can be trained. In this talk I will present the background data to support this model. I will also present the preliminary results from a randomised controlled trial in which we tested the influence of computerised speechreading training on reading development in young deaf children.

This talk is part of the Chaucer Club series.

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