New resources for teaching deaf children

26 November 2009

Specialist resources aimed at improving literacy amongst deaf children are now available online and are already proving popular with teachers.

The resources have been developed by Professor Terezinha Nunes from the University of Oxford and supported by the Nuffield Foundation and the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Learning to read and write is more difficult for deaf children because letters represent sounds and they do not make the subtle discriminations between speech-sounds required for using an alphabet.

Professor Nunes and her team developed a system based on the visual representation of morphemes – units of meaning used to form words. For example, explaining that ‘s’ on the end of a noun represents the plural is difficult to convey to deaf children through sign language, so the researchers focused on visual representation through a series of pictures, books and games.

The resources are now accessible to all via the Oxford University website.

Professor Nunes was recently invited to share her research at a workshop for leading linguists and psychologists at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, southern Brazil.