Manual Communication as an Alternative Mode of Language Instruction for Children with Severe Reading Disabilities The development of an effective program to teach reading skills to children with severe reading disabilities is an important area of concern for educators, parents, clinicians, and researchers. Current theory ascribes many reading difficulties to deficits in auditory-visual processing; children often have improved in their reading skills through a structured ... Research Article
Research Article  |   January 01, 1984
Manual Communication as an Alternative Mode of Language Instruction for Children with Severe Reading Disabilities
 
Author Notes
  • Deborah Webb Blackburn, John D. Bonvillian, and Robert P. Ashby are affiliated with the Department of Psychology, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22901. Requests for reprints should be sent to John Bonvillian at that address.
    Deborah Webb Blackburn, John D. Bonvillian, and Robert P. Ashby are affiliated with the Department of Psychology, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22901. Requests for reprints should be sent to John Bonvillian at that address.×
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   January 01, 1984
Manual Communication as an Alternative Mode of Language Instruction for Children with Severe Reading Disabilities
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 1984, Vol. 15, 22-31. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.1501.22
History: Received February 17, 1982 , Accepted July 26, 1982
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 1984, Vol. 15, 22-31. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.1501.22
History: Received February 17, 1982; Accepted July 26, 1982

The development of an effective program to teach reading skills to children with severe reading disabilities is an important area of concern for educators, parents, clinicians, and researchers. Current theory ascribes many reading difficulties to deficits in auditory-visual processing; children often have improved in their reading skills through a structured program of tactile-kinesthetic training. Recently, a few programs for children with severe reading disabilities have begun to include training in manual communication, using one of the sign languages of the deaf or the manual alphabet as the additional processing mode. Early results of these training programs have been encouraging, as some of the students exposed to manual communication training have shown impressive gains in reading and personal behavior. However, these findings are based on very preliminary results with limited populations, and systematic longitudinal studies have not yet been conducted. The present paper presents a critical review of these initial studies, plus the case report of two severely reading-disabled adolescent boys who were given reading instruction with the aid of fingerspelling and sign language. Over the 5-month training period, the two boys demonstrated considerable improvement in reading ability, although their progress probably should not be attributed solely to their manual communication training.

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