When teaching reading and writing to a child with hearing impairment, the teacher must keep in mind that students need to be explicitly taught each phonological sound and plan accordingly.  Due to the fact that students will struggle with auditory information, teachers must also remember to diversify their teaching methods.  French (1999) noted that a few activities that should occur daily during reading and writing instruction include:

  • Reading and writing aloud
  • Shared reading and writing
  • Guided reading and writing
  • Independent reading and writing

Depending on the developmental level of the students, the teacher may choose to focus more on one area than on another.  Reading and writing aloud provide a chance for the student to be immersed in the language he/she is learning.  It also allows the student a chance to connect spoken language to text.  It is important that the vocabulary level of the information being read or written matches the vocabulary level of the students.           Using a shared reading and writing approach allows the students to participate in the reading and writing if they wish.  During this time, students will be aware of the expectation to participate, but are not pressured into an uncomfortable situation. 

During guided reading and writing, students are able to work their way through a text or writing piece with the support of their teacher.  Teachers can use this time to target the needs of both individuals and the class as a whole through the use of mini-lessons.  These lessons can be based upon any area that the students are experiencing difficulty.  When using independent reading and writing, the students practice the skills they have learned previously without the intervention of the teacher.  This allows for practice in fluency as well as critical thinking skills (French, 1999). 

However, checking for comprehension among students regularly is critical.   When a child misses something, he/she may be too embarrassed to ask to have the information repeated.  If the student does not ask, and the teacher does not notice, the student often becomes confused and falls behind because of missing essential information.  In order to help with comprehension the teacher can repeat questions and answers given by the other students in the classroom.  This way, the student who is hard or hearing or deaf can focus only on the teacher, but still get all the necessary information and feel that he/she belongs in the classroom (NDCS, 2004).

In discussing assignments, Waldron (2006) notes that the teacher should ask the student to explain completed reading or written information.  Informally, the teacher can gauge if the student's comprehension level is literal or at the higher level of interpreting and exploring concepts.  In class discussions of reading assignments, teachers should ask questions at the student's level of understanding.  However, while students who are deaf or hearing impaired can have very high intelligence, they may not appear to be as capable as they really are.  From an early age, they may miss out on understanding of critical concepts because of difficulties understanding spoken language.  Therefore, it is critical to not make assumptions that a student is at a lower, or literal, level of comprehension.  It is important to consistently teach abstract concepts and move students to higher comprehension levels.

Since written language includes application of a more sophisticated level of word analysis and recognition, problems with decoding, or basic word reading, may lessen overall comprehension (Waldron, 2006).  If a student has to focus on analyzing individual words, it is difficult to appreciate the full context of a passage.  And if there are also problems with fully understanding the meaning of abstract concepts, comprehension is hindered further.  Therefore, it is important to focus on both the ability to analyze words (basic decoding skills) and on teaching abstract concepts.