Written language performance in adults with moderate to severe congenital hearing impairment
Groenestyn, M. van
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Aim: The aim of this study was to examine whether the written language performance of adults with moderate to severe congenital hearing impairment (MSCHI) differs from that of normal-hearing adults (NH) at group level and whether the written language performance of MSCHI subjects differs from their spoken language performance at group level. Method: Written language performance was examined by analysing written samples in expository discourse genre. The written output of the 20 MSCHI adults and 9 NH adults was analysed using the STAP method (Dungen & Verbeek, 1999), containing parameters on syntactic complexity, morphosyntax, semantics, pragmatics, spelling, and punctuation. Results: At group level, the written language performance of the NH and MSCHI group only differed significantly on two variables: ‘mean length of the 5 longest utterances in words’ (MLUL) and ‘semantically deviant utterances’. When comparing the parameter values of the spoken samples and the written samples at group level, the MSCHI group scored significantly better in the written samples on ‘mean length of utterances’ (MLU), several other measures of syntactic complexity, morphosyntax and ‘implicit use of anaphora’. Conclusion: Our data show that both the MSCHI and NH group show similar written language performance at group level for most parameters. However, in comparison between the written and spoken language performance of the MSCHI group a difference at group level was found for morphosyntactic variables. Less morphosyntactic errors occurred in the written samples, caused by a benefit for the MSCHI group due to the modality specific characteristics of writing. Thus, the difference in written language performance compared to spoken language performance of the MSCHI group at group level seems not to be caused by poorer language competence but by the difference in output processing. As written language performance may influence spoken language performance, education and therapy for children with hearing impairment should have a greater focus on written language.