SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 45

Reading Methodology for Deaf Children Supalla associated with the ASL-phabet were treated as comparable to how the alphabetic principle is taught to students who can hear with English (S. Supalla & Blackburn, 2003). The reading instruction curriculum, materials and teaching at the charter school included opportunities for deaf children to develop phonemic awareness in ASL (as part of their preparation for learning to read words in ASL). Kindergartners were exposed to ASL nursery rhymes as produced by accomplished signers on videotapes readily available on the market. The ASL Parent-child Mother Goose Program: American Sign Language Rhymes, Rhythms and Stories for Parents and their Children produced by the Ontario Cultural Society of the Deaf (2004) serves as a good example. One of the songs was rhymed throughout the production via one particular handshape. Deaf children exposed to the handshape-based rhyme were expected to develop awareness about that particular handshape. Turning to how deaf children at the charter school experienced transition from ASL to English literacy, it is necessary to remember they were reading gloss books and using the RB on a regular basis to access meanings of the individual English words. This is precisely the way that deaf children developed a strong English vocabulary base. The English books were more readable to these children as the words were the same as found in the gloss books (e.g., cat vs. CAT, dog vs. DOG, and chase vs. CHASE). The benefits associated with the shared spelling and orthography of the gloss and regular texts form the basis for the initial transition from ASL to English literacy (S. Supalla & Cripps, 2011). A complete transition to English literacy is realized when deaf children participate in another supporting component called Comparative Analysis. Children initially read a gloss book (and use the RB whenever necessary) and participate in different activities around that book. The teacher then introduces the children to the gloss and regular versions for observation and analysis (e.g., the gloss version: DOG NOW CHASE>IX=3 CAT with the English version: The dog is chasing the cat). With the help of the transparency between the gloss and regular texts, deaf children can study what is structurally similar and different between ASL and English and focus on learning the grammatical features that are specific to English. The learning of English for deaf children at the charter school was repeated with one book after another, along with increasing text complexity over time. Teachers at this school appreciated the fact that the less complex texts for younger readers coincided with rudimentary English structures to learn. The older readers could review what they learned and study the new and more complex structures over time. This resulted in the scaffolding of the English language skills that deaf children needed to learn and master over time (S. Supalla & Cripps, 2011). By the fourth grade, deaf children at the charter school were expected to read to learn (rather than learn to read). They needed to demonstrate their reading performance through assessment. One example of information gathered from deaf children is how well they read aloud a gloss text with their performance measured through what is known as running records (Clay, 2000). Deaf children were asked to read the English text silently, and answer a set of comprehension questions. With a good or satisfactory level of performance with ASL and English, the glossing approach for reading instruction would cease. At that point, deaf children would be reading in English and continue using ASL for communicative purposes in the classroom (see S. Supalla & Blackburn, 2003 for the further discussion on the phasing out of the glossing approach). SASLJ, Vol. 1, No. 1 – Fall/Winter 2017 45