Abstract and Keywords
Recent studies have obtained findings of significant theoretical and practical importance for parents and educators of deaf children and others who seek to discover how hearing loss and the use of a visuospatial language might influence language, cognitive, and social functioning. This work has led to a more objective understanding of deaf individuals and signed languages, and offers great hope for improving deaf education. This chapter offers a historical review of cognitive research involving deaf individuals through the stages of “the deaf as inferior,” “the deaf as concrete,” and “the deaf as intellectually normal.” It argues for an additional, contemporary stage of “different does not mean deficient.” Findings with regard to attention and perception, mental representation, visuospatial imagery and cognition, memory, and problem solving all point to the probability that deaf and hearing individuals differ cognitively in several subtle and not-so-subtle ways that might affect learning and other psychological domains. Whether a function of their language experiences, variable educational backgrounds, nature, or nurture, it is essential that such differences be understood in order to accommodate the needs of deaf learners while utilizing their strengths.
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