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Are there any good literacy programs for deaf learners

A teacher from Minnesota recently asked me if there were literacy programs/curriculums for deaf learners.  I did not have an answer for her and decided to reach out to the LINCS community and see what suggestions came my way.  If you have any ideas or suggestions for myself or this teacher, I would appreciate it.



Di Baycich's picture
One hundred

I don't have information about specific programs but I can share a link to some resources for teachers. The site has not been updated in a while so some of the resource links may be inactive but the information was put together by a deaf grad assistant.

Hope this helps.

Marie Cora's picture
One hundred

Hi Dorjan,

When I was director of a pretty large literacy program in Providence RI we had what was then the only Deaf Lit Program in the country - it was staffed by all deaf/hard of hearing professionals (including the program coordinator) who team taught the classes.  Classes were taught in ASL.  Classes were held on the Brown University campus (which was one of several reasons why the retention rate was 100% - students were extremely proud to be able to say their education program was at such a prestigious campus).  It was run out of the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown - 

25 George Street, Providence, 02912  (401) 863-2338

I actually do not know if that program is still running but you should contact the Swearer Center to find out if they still have it.  There were lots of materials developed for the program, so hopefully those resources are still available.  Also, another person to ask would be Janet Isserlis, who works at the Adult Ed PD center in RI, which is now at RI College:  She may have some current info on the program.

This resource is from Gallaudet - and I'm sure they would be able to provide tons of info and other resources:

This is from our neighbor to the north:

In the meantime, here is a discussion that occured on the LINCS LD discussion list from 2006 - dated but probably still good info and hopefully some other leads.

Hope this is helpful!!


Marie Cora's picture
One hundred

I said the program was staffed by deaf or hard of hearing professionals - by that I mean that all staff had jobs in other areas, they were not necessarily teachers.  But we all worked together to develop the teaching/learning process for the program.

And also:  the program coordinator once told me that the single most important and effective way for deaf/hard of hearing folks to learn to write was:  read, read, read.  So they did tons of reading, discussed what was read along with analyze how things were written, and then they wrote, wrote, wrote.

Dorjan Chaney's picture

I appreciate the feedback.  I believe that the Minnesota teacher will be in a much better place with these resources. It should give her a good place to start.

Thank you both,


andresmuro's picture

That is a very difficult question to ask. Deaf learners use various languages and it depends on upbringing, philosophy, exposure, and political views  that they may use one or more languages. Some of the languages include home-signs (for those who were never exposed to a formal system). Then, there is American Sign Language (ASL) and Straight English. There is also lip reading and vocalization. It also depends if they were born deaf or became deaf. There are also competing theories regarding learning ASL vs Straight English. The most acceptable model is for learners to acquire ASL, before they move into SE. Many Deaf are against the use of lip reading or vocalization or any other devices or medical interventions to allow the Deaf to be able to listen to sounds. Others who grew up associating mostly with hearing people, mostly lip read, vocalize and use SE. It is a very controversial issue. 

ASL, is purely a visual, expressive ruled language. It is not phonetic or alphabetic. It doesn't have prepositions, verb conjugations, diacritical marks, etc. It  also requires that the receptive side looks at the expressions and emotions of the expressive side. Transitioning from ASL to SE is tough and for those with limited literacy, who weren't exposed to ASL, they may have to move from home signs, to ASL and then to SE. 

My suggestion, is that your acquaintance reads as much a possible about the Deaf. Gallaudet, was founded in the 1800s is the first university dedicated only to the Deaf. I suggest that your friend visits their website. 

Hope this helps,






Dahlia's picture

Hi there,

By coincidence I happened to visit Gallaudet University yesterday and met with a group of researchers.  They do have a focus on deaf literacy--for children and adults--as well as a focus on transitioning deaf students from HS to college. I'd encourage you to visit the Gallaudet Research Institute page ( They are compiling an online database of their research that is searchable. In addition, you can check out the Rochester Institute of Technology's research center ( I believe they team up with University of Rochester and other groups to conduct participatory action research around health care needs of deaf patients and consumers.

Best, Dahlia