Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education


According to the authors of the Test of Syntactic Abilities (TSA), the most difficult task facing deaf and hard-of-hearing children in our educational system is the acquisition of English. The structure, or syntax, of the English language, is especially challenging for these children. The eventual result is that few deaf and hard-of-hearing students acquire even an adequate knowledge of standard English. This in turn affects all other aspects of education, including the learning of reading, writing and content subjects (Quigley, Steinkamp, Power & Jones, 1978). Most deaf and hard-of-hearing children do not even use English syntax to any great extent until they are five or six years old (McAnally, Rose & Quigley, 1987), beyond the critical period for language acquisition (0-4 years), during which children learn language (spoken or manual) quickly and with relative ease. It is estimated that most 18-year-old deaf students have a mastery over only a few syntactic structures of the English language, and that an estimated 50% are reading at or below a fourth-grade level. Only about 10% of 18-year-old deaf students are reported as having reading skills above the eighth-grade level (McAnally et al., 1987).



Faculty Mentor

J. Freeman King