Home > Catalogue > EL.LE > 1 | 3 | 2012 > The Consequences of Deafness on the Access to Language and its Codes

The Consequences of Deafness on the Access to Language and its Codes

Carmela Bertone    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    

Francesca Volpato    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



This essay offers a general perspective on the linguistic competence of deaf children in Italian language. Some studies have investigated the linguistic competence in different typologies of deaf people: orally-trained children with cochlear implants, native signers, non-native signers and deaf foreigners adolescents and adults. Although the results vary according to the different populations, the difficulties that overall deaf individuals experience are the same. They all make mistakes in unstressed elements (articles, clitic pronouns, prepositions, morphological functional elements) often co-articulated with the word that follows or precedes them. Deaf people seem to follow the same phases of language acquisition of hearing people but with atypical errors that cannot be assimilated to errors foreigners learning Italian language make. In most cases the written language is the main channel for deaf people to access to oral language, literacy skills are the final step in the process of language acquisition, while for deaf people these are the starting point. Is it possible to acquire language through its written form? These remarks lead us to reflect and reconsider the current school system in an attempt to find appropriate strategies that better enable deaf people to access the spoken language. This need justifies the presence of a linguist, specialized in linguistic acquisition and deafness, within the group of professionals who collaborate in the rehabilitation and education of deaf students.

Nov. 1, 2012