As indicated in this Special Issue, there has been much debate on the development of English language and literacy in d/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Dhh) students. Questions remain on the nature of the first language and the relation of this language to the development of English literacy. There is also considerable controversy on the role of English phonology. Adding to the complexity is the increase of d/Dhh children for whom English is not the home language and the ongoing challenge of addressing the needs of those with disabilities or additional disabilities. After describing English literacy and the need for documenting desirable research characteristics, the authors of this conclusion article utilize a construct named the Qualitative Similarity Hypothesis (QSH) as the guiding framework for addressing issues such as the role of phonology and the nature of the through-the-air form of the language of print. The QSH asserts that d/Dhh students need to master the same set of fundamentals as typical English literacy learners. These fundamentals include code-related, language-related, and comprehension-related skills. One major assertion is that proficiency in the through-the-air form of English is essential for achieving proficiency in conventional English literacy skills. It is argued that the importance of English language proficiency has been emphasized in literacy models that delineate the strong connections among language, reading, and writing, even for second language learners of English or English learners. Another major assertion is that proficiency in English phonology is necessary (albeit not sufficient) for the development of emerging decoding skills. The use of English phonology facilitates the early and advanced literacy comprehension skills. The article concludes with recommendations for additional research, including the understanding of the visual representation of the structure of English, the development of comprehensive English language assessments, and the exploration of literacy-related skills such as decoding and comprehension. Finally, the validity of the QSH also needs to be further investigated.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited