A comparison of pragmatic abilities of children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their hearing peers
journal contributionposted on 2014-01-01, 00:00 authored by Louise PaatschLouise Paatsch, Dianne Toe
Pragmatic skills are the key to a satisfying and sustained conversation. Such conversation is critical for the development of meaningful friendships. Previous studies have investigated the conversational skills of deaf children while interacting with adults or when interacting with peers in structured referential tasks. There are few published studies that have compared the pragmatic skills of children who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) in free conversation with their hearing peers. In this study, the conversational skills of 31 children who are D/HH when interacting with a hearing friend were compared with those of 31 pairs of hearing children. Findings suggest that school-aged children (Years 3–6 of study; aged 8–12 years) who are D/HH have a wide range of pragmatic skills that they use effectively when conversing with their hearing peers. Specifically, these children asked more questions, made more personal comments, initiated more topics, and took longer turns in their conversations with a hearing friend. In contrast, the conversations between hearing peers were very balanced with similar topic initiation, length of turn, numbers of questions, personal comments, and minimal answers. These findings will help teachers to provide support for both pragmatic and social skills in children who are D/HH.