Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education

Committee Chair(s)

Lauri Nelson


Lauri Nelson


Elizabeth Parker


Sonia Manuel-DuPont


Nicole Martin


Children with congenital hearing loss are at risk for speech, language, and academic delays. Early identification of hearing loss provides the opportunity for children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) to obtain appropriate technology, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, and to receive early intervention services to optimize development of listening and spoken language. Almost all industrialized countries have adopted policies for universal newborn hearing screening (National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, 2011). This has significantly reduced the average age of identification from 2 ½ -3 years of age to 2-3 months of age (White, Forsman, Eichwald, & Muñoz, 2010; White, 2010). When parents select listening and spoken language as the primary mode of communication for their child, early intervention services typically focus on auditory perception and language acquisition (Greers, Mood, Biedenstein, Brener, & Hayes, 2009). As children enter the preschool setting, deaf educators continue the instructional focus on language development and academic readiness. Vocabulary development is an essential component of language proficiency and was identified as a literacy priority by the National Reading Panel (Report of the national reading panel, 2006). An area of concern for many children who are DHH is the development of vocabulary, both receptively and expressively. Vocabulary is learned by typically developing children through incidental learning. However, this is not as accessible for children who are DHH. The majority of children who are DHH learn vocabulary best through direct instruction (Lederberg & Spencer, 2009).

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