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purple arrow (1137 bytes)Hypermedia for Readers with Hearing Impairments

REFERENCE: Horney, M., Anderson-Inman, L. and Chen, D. (1994, December). Project LITERACY-HI: Hypermedia for Readers with Hearing Impairments. Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, San Diego, CA.

Description of research

CONTEXT: The Center for Electronic Studying at the University of Oregon and the Cascade Regional Program for the Hearing Impaired in Lane County, Oregon, are collaborating on a federally-funded project, LITERACY-HI, which is investigating the benefits of electronically enhanced text for mainstreamed students with hearing impairments. The authors cite the difficulties that deaf and hard-of-hearing students experience when reading materials beyond a fourth-grade level. In particular, they point to limited receptive and expressive English vocabularies, especially of abstract terms, limited experiential and linguistic expertise, and the special challenge of figurative language and idioms. The central effort of the project is to create electronic versions of content-area textbooks that contain, in addition to the original text, multimedia resources that directly support a reader's comprehension.

The goals of the project are to (a) identify the types of electronic text enhancements desired by students with hearing impairments, (b) explore the factors associated with appropriate and effective text enhancements for this population, (c) investigate the effects of reading electronically enhanced materials on students' literacy skills and academic achievement, and (d) examine whether this type of assistive technology for hearing-impaired students can be realistically implemented in general education classes long term.

DESCRIPTION: One text, Old Ben Bailey Meets His Match, is offered as sample adaptation. Six types of resources are available for this text: sounds, American Sign Language translations, pictures, animations, definitions, and explanations. Of the 1,487 words in Old Ben Bailey, 151 words and phrases have resources, altogether numbering 380.

A pilot study with six students has yielded valuable observations. For example, the software ran slowly, leaving the students impatient and causing them to mis-key. Regarding student behavior, the researchers observed that the students were willing to read along without really comprehending and made little use of the available resources, and in fact, did not seem to see their value. The researchers plan to address these issues in two ways: by embedding comprehension questions within the text to help students monitor their own understanding of what they are reading, and by devising techniques for helping students acquire the habits and skills to use the available resources. They point out that "finding ways to encourage resource use without mandating or overemphasizing it is an issue we will investigate with some vigor."


The researchers are assessing the appropriateness and effectiveness of each resource type. One new resource they plan to develop is "Graphic Overviews." This will include concept maps, timelines, flowcharts and other types of graphics designed to give the reader a conceptual overview. The researchers are also determining a set of rules that would guide authors of enhanced texts as they identify words and phrases readers may have difficulty comprehending, decide what types of resources may enhance comprehension, and locate or produce the resources.

For More Information:

Mark Horney, Ph.D., Center for Electronic Studying, DLIL-College of Education, Room 212, 5265 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-5265

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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