Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Bowers, Lisa

Committee Member/Reader

Glade, Rachel


Spelling is a crucial skill that children must learn to read, write, and communicate effectively, but this comes with challenges for students with hearing loss. Linguistic processes, such as phonological awareness, morphological awareness, orthographic awareness, semantic awareness, and mental graphemic representations are building blocks to understanding how to spell words accurately but are more difficult to grasp and apply with hearing loss. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the spelling skills of deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) students to identify which linguistic processes need to be corrected and strengthened. By identifying which linguistic processes need remediation, educators may be able to better understand what specific skills to focus on when teaching spelling skills to deaf and hard of hearing students. This may help build spelling skills and strengthen spelling accuracy overall. For this study, the spelling skills of twenty-five students in the third, fourth, and fifth grades, all who are deaf or hard of hearing (d/hh), were evaluated over one academic year. The students all participated in Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI), an approach designed to improve the writing skills of d/hh students. The methods included the administration of the spelling subtest of the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement (3rd Edition; WJTA-3) to d/hh students. A Multi-Linguistic Coding (MLC) System was used to identify what type of error was made for each incorrect spelling attempt. The six categories included in the MLC system are: phonological awareness errors (PA), orthographic pattern awareness errors (OPA), mental graphemic representation errors (MGR), morphological awareness errors (MA), semantic awareness errors (SA), and visual image errors (VI). The scores from the MLC were analyzed using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with one repeated measure, Error Type (PA vs. OPA vs. MGR vs. SA vs. MA vs. VI). Results indicated that there was a significant main effect for Error Type, F(1,9.069), p=0.004. An examination of the means by each spelling error type revealed that the participants made more PA errors (M= 3.37, SD= 2.81, range 0–12) than any other type of error. Additionally, participants made more MGR errors (M=2.46, SD=3.13, range 0–11) and VI errors (M=2.38, SD=2.99, range 0-13) more often than OPA errors (M=1.58, SD=2.19, range 0–11), SA errors (M=0.94, SD=1.63, range 0–7), or MA errors (M=0.46, SD=0.70, range 0–3) on the spelling assessment. In conclusion, as predicted, d/hh students made more phonological errors than any other type on the spelling test, which is in direct contrast to the type of errors that were present in the spelling errors of students in grades 3-5 with typical hearing. Visual image errors were the next largest category. Also, the study found that the students’ age equivalent scores as well as the number of words spelled correctly both increased over the course of eight months while the teachers implemented the SIWI. Future research is warranted to explore the MLC system, which can be used to inform intervention approaches used to improve the spelling skills of d/hh students.


spelling, communication, deaf, hard of hearing, education