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Reading and Sound

Cosmic Question #2:

How do the hearing impaired learn to read? I'm not trying to be rude, I'm really curious, because if you think about it how did you learn to read?

I learned through connecting certain symbols (letters) with sounds my throat, and then my mind, would make. So does someone who is hearing impaired, and I'm talking severely enough to not be able to hear at all, have to hold their hand to someone else's throat and mouth? Like Helen Keller?

It would be rather rotten to not be able to read in this world, especially if you were missing one of your senses on top of it. I can't imagine how frustrating it would be, but then again I love the written word. So taking the power of literacy away from me would be as bad as taking one of my five senses.

Anyway, I was mulling that over the other morning and decided it was a perfect cosmic question.


Jessica Bair said…
You know, I've always wondered the same thing. I know some deaf people in SF. Maybe next time I see them I'll have to ask.
Ethan said…
I've known a couple of deaf people and a couple of sign interpretors in my life and what I've been able to gather it is actually difficult. Most hearing impaired individuals have a lower reading level than their hearing counterparts and sign language doesn't translate well into a written language. For instance words like "the", "an" "is" are filler words that don't really have an equivalent in ASL.

I would imagine even hearing people who learn sign are somehow relating the symbols to an auditory sensation. Perhaps that is why babies can communicate with signs before they can talk. For a deaf person an object would be mentally related to a sign. For me, an object, is related to a word or sound. I'm curious if their synaptic networks would be different because of this. It is a very interest topic.
Ethan said…
Just another quick thought; I think that it is important to remember that to a deaf person, English is a foreign language. For them, reading a book in English would be like us reading a book in braille or Chinese.
Jennifer said…
I don't know about deaf people, but for me, reading has nothing to do with hearing. It's one of the reasons I'm so fast when I read. I don't translate the written word into a word I hear. I just take in the meaning of the word - actually, several words at a time. In fact, I have found that if I start "hearing" what I'm reading it slows me down dramatically and makes it much harder for me to make sense of the story.
cannwin said…
Jen. I agree that 'now' you may not hear the words, but when you learned to read you learned through things like R says rrrr and S says sss. For a hearing impaired person they can't do that so I'm thinking it's more of a memorization thing, A-P-P-L-E means a fruit from a tree that comes in various shades of red.

I guess if you really think about it even the art of sign language would have to be accomplished this way.

Which is pretty much what you teach a baby when you teach them to sign... or even speak.

Eth- interesting point about english being a foreign language, you are probably right.

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