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EHDI: Early Hearing Detection & Intervention

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Webinar: Getting Ready To Be Readers: Preliteracy During the EHDI Period

When: December 7, 2023 | 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MDT


Literacy achievement has long been a concern of parents and professionals working with deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. Recent research has found that age-appropriate reading skills are possible for many of today's DHH elementary schoolers to achieve (e.g., Mayer et al., 2021; Smolen et al., 2020). But the road to successful reading begins long before formal schooling. In fact, the early intervention (EI) period provides many opportunities for parents and professionals to facilitate preliteracy skills. This presentation will explore preliteracy development for DHH infants and toddlers as they are getting ready to become successful readers.

Results of a longitudinal study of reading achievement in DHH children enrolled in specialized listening and spoken language intervention show that while basic reading skills, including phonological awareness, are generally strong for this population, challenges with reading fluency may impact reading comprehension for some. How can parents and professionals strengthen DHH infants’ and toddlers’ prereading skills? Strategies for targeting preliteracy through shared book reading, routines-based language learning, mental state talk, and auditory memory will be presented, along with tools to track the development of these skills in very young children.


  • Elaine Smolen & Maria Hartman

Elaine Smolen

Elaine Smolen, PhD, CED, LSLS Cert. AVEd, is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Special Education: Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research work centers around language and literacy development for young deaf and hard of hearing children who use listening and spoken language. Smolen received her PhD in deaf and hard of hearing education from Columbia as a National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities scholar. An experienced teacher of the deaf and certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist, Smolen has served young children with hearing loss and their families as a head classroom teacher and in an itinerant role. She holds teaching certification in the areas of deaf education, elementary education, and English.

Maria Hartman

Maria Hartman, PhD, is a Lecturer and Program Director in the Special Education: Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her work focuses on preparing the next generation of teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing through teaching courses in language and literacy development, assessment and teaching methods. Hartman also supervises pre-service teachers in schools, clinics and agencies that serve deaf children throughout the New York City area and is a member of the research team at Teachers College investigating deaf children’s language and literacy growth.