An understanding of the literacy levels of students: Who are deaf/hard-of-hearing in the United States, China, and South Korea


This paper presents a synthesis of the research findings of the literacy levels and difficulties of deaf/hard of hearing children and adolescents in the United States, China, and South Korea. After discussing general achievement levels, we provide a brief introduction to the nature of the three writing systems (English, Chinese, and Korean) to establish an explanatory framework that accounts for the status of the current literacy levels. We assert that the three writing systems are designed, at the least, to fit the phonological structures of the languages for which they represent. We also argue that there is a reciprocal, facilitative relationship between lower-level (e.g., decoding) and higher-level (e.g., comprehension, composing) skills. To establish this reciprocity, children need to develop competence in phonology, specifically, and in other general language components (e.g., morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) of the language of print. Many children may also need to learn how to comprehend or compose (e.g., develop higher level metacognitive, inferencing skills).


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type





Alphabetic code, Deaf, Hard of hearing, Higher-level skills, Literacy, Lower-level skills, Orthography, Phonology

Publication Date


Journal Title

Educational Studies in Language and Literature