The present study examines deaf and hearing children's spelling of plural nouns. Severe literacy impairments are well documented in the deaf, which are believed to be a consequence of phonological awareness limitations. Fifty deaf (mean chronological age 13;10 years, mean reading age 7;5 years) and 50 reading-age-matched hearing children produced spellings of regular, semiregular, and irregular plural nouns in Experiment 1 and nonword plurals in Experiment 2. Deaf children performed reading-age appropriately on rule-based (regular and semiregular) plurals but were significantly less accurate at spelling irregular plurals. Spelling of plural nonwords and spelling error analyses revealed clear evidence for use of morphology. Deaf children used morphological generalization to a greater degree than their reading-age-matched hearing counterparts. Also, hearing children combined use of phonology and morphology to guide spelling, whereas deaf children appeared to use morphology without phonological mediation. Therefore, use of morphology in spelling can be independent of phonology and is available to the deaf despite limited experience with spoken language. Indeed, deaf children appear to be learning about morphology from the orthography. Education on more complex morphological generalization and exceptions may be highly beneficial not only for the deaf but also for other populations with phonological awareness limitations.
- Literacy development
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Physiology (medical)