Handwriting in signing deaf middle-school students and relationship with text composition and spelling
Alamargot D, Morin MF, *Simard-Dupuis É. (2018). Handwriting in signing deaf middle-school students and relationship with text composition and spelling. Reading & Writing. 31(4): 1017-1038.
We set out to (i) assess the handwriting skills of signing deaf students, and (ii) examine the extent to which their text composition and spelling performances are linked to their handwriting efficiency. We asked 15 prelingually and profoundly deaf middle-school students (M = 15.18 years), all sign-language users, and a group of hearing students matched on chronological age (M = 15.32 years) to write the letters of the alphabet and their firstname and surname from memory as a handwriting assessment, and to compose a text describing their bedroom. Results showed that even though the deaf students formed legible letters in both handwriting tasks, they spent more time producing the alphabet letters, and composed shorter texts that were less fluent and contained more phonologically inaccurate spelling errors. Analysis of correlations between handwriting and text production (including spelling) measures revealed strong and significant relationships for the deaf students. This study showed that handwriting difficulties, in terms of executing the letters of their firstname and surname, as well as retrieving the letters of the alphabet from memory, persist in 15-year-old signing deaf students, and represent a constraint during text production, impairing spelling as well as text content richness and word fluency.