Cohesion & Quality In Deaf & Hearing Children’s Written English

Although it is well known that the English writing skills of deaf individuals are usually considerably inferior to those of hearing peers, there is a need for information on the exact nature of their difficulties and of the effects of different linguistic elements on writing success. Deaf and hearing children at two grade levels (fourth and eighth) provided written texts for an analysis of text structure and quality. Deaf writers used as many cohesive devices as hearing writers but not as many different lexical items per device. Hearing readers who ranked the texts discussed the effectiveness of different devices in relation to coherence and intelligibility, focusing on vocabulary, information presentation, and coherence. Their attempts at comprehension followed a search for unexpressed relational propositions in order to account for text connectedness and coherence that were unrelated to the structural devices of cohesion. The deaf children’s texts are discussed in terms of possible language transference (from American Sign Language) and individual interlanguage.