For dDHOH (deaf, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing) children who grew up speaking ASL, English is a second language. For dDHOH children who don’t know ASL, there are unique barriers to literacy. Only 33% of dDHOH students will graduate high school and even college-bound dDHOH students typically only read at an 8th grade level.
The same factors that are affecting the literacy rates of dDHOH children are also preventing them from utilizing their local libraries to their full capabilities. And yet, as more dDHOH students are pushed into the public-school system armed with nothing more than a couple hearing aids, the library’s role as a place of education comes to the forefront.
Public libraries have a lot to learn from recent literature in the fields of education and academic librarianship to see how other public education institutions have adapted to serve the needs of dDHOH students. This poster and the accompanying paper draw on studies from the aforementioned fields to answer the question: what does the research-based evidence indicate can be done by public librarians to promote Deaf literacy through library services?
As the poster will show, for libraries in communities with large Deaf populations, it is imperative they complete a community needs assessment, train their staff, and improve their technological and library service offerings.
Vera Elwood– Outreach Librarian, Hays Public Library