SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 40

Reading Methodology for Deaf Children Supalla ability to acquire and master language. They are active learners when languages are real and meaningful to them and the language learning experience is effortless and without any formal instruction. Deaf children are no exception to that rule. They must have control over the linguistic input, a condition which is achieved with a signed language, where hearing capacity is not a prerequisite (see Newport & Meier, 1985 for an overview on ASL acquisition studies; also Schick, 2011). Denying deaf children access to ASL has been suggested by scholars to be a practice that is harmful and that must be stopped (e.g., Humphries, Kushalnagar, Mathur, Napoli, Padden, & Rathmann, 2012; see S. Supalla & Cripps, 2008 for further discussion of the linguistic accessibility concept). For the record, many researchers and scholars outside the field of deaf education have freely discussed the idea of a writing system for ASL (e.g., Hopkins, 2008; Miller, 2001; Reagan, 2006; Turner, 2009; van der Hulst & Channon, 2010). Written language is considered a valuable asset for many spoken languages around the world. The same benefits apply to ASL (Grushkin, 2017), but the education establishment needs to rally around teaching literacy skills to deaf children based on the concept of linguistic accessibility (i.e., deaf children must learn to read in ASL, not English). Further, among the lessons learned from history is that deaf children should not be confined to learning to read in ASL only. The solution can be found in glossing, which has a specific way of handling written ASL in a way which helps deaf children decode and pursue English literacy. Perhaps the most powerful pressure for pursuing signed language reading lies in society’s push towards best reading instruction practices for all children. Deaf children are seen as part of a larger agenda for literacy. The public opinion favoring accountability is strong, which includes the understanding that deaf children cannot continue to struggle in becoming fluent readers (e.g., Marschark, Lang, & Albertini, 2002; Traxler, 2000). Of relevance for this paper is how some scholars have pointed to the importance of aligning the curriculum, instruction, and assessment to help children learn to read more successfully (Elliott, Braden, & White, 2001; Roach, Neibling, & Kurz, 2008). These scholars may not have any direct affiliation with deaf education, but the deep underlying problem with American education appears to have been identified. That is, curriculum, instruction, and assessment have been rigidly maintained, regardless of what the children need. Any pursuit of signed language reading with deaf children will require a significant amount of alignment to curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The path for pursuing signed language reading, especially in the form of an intermediary system linking ASL and English literacy, is wide open according to Wauters and de Klerk (2014): ...[deaf] students in bilingual education settings, learning to read coincides with learning t