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Journal of Deaf Studies & Deaf Education Author's Corner
Lexical and Grammatical Abilities in Deaf Italian Preschoolers: The Role of Duration of Formal Lang…
Lexical and Grammatical Abilities in Deaf Italian Preschoolers: The Role of Duration of Formal Language Experience
Rome, Italy) are available from
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Around 95% of deaf children have hearing parents, most of whom are unfamiliar with sign language. These children have consistently revealed a general delay in the onset of language, as well as a slower rate of progression, resulting in poorer linguistic abilities with respect to same-age hearing children. So as to compensate for their difficulties in speaking, deaf children, and hearing children with linguistic disabilities in general, rely more on the use of gestures than their peers do. In this light, some language education and/or rehabilitation programs for deaf children rely on simultaneous communication, which consists of the spoken language and the simultaneous use of lexical signs from the sign language used in the given country, yet following the grammatical structure of the spoken language (in Italy, this form of communication is referred to as “bimodal”). The supporters of simultaneous communication claim that the use of a visual-gestural modality, which is not impaired in deaf children, may improve the acquisition of spoken language. Studies on the effect of the use of manually coded systems (mostly MCE) on language acquisition in deaf children with hearing parents show discordant results. In Italy, no studies have evaluated the effects of the bimodal method on language acquisition in deaf children, although there are clinical case reports that show that this method has positive effects.