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The implications of conductive hearing loss for literacy development of Indigenous children

Ann Galloway and Members of the Research Project team
Kurongkurl Katitjin: School of Indigenous Australian Studies, Edith Cowan University
This paper will provide an outline of a state-wide cross-sectoral study investigating the implementation and efficacy of literacy teaching strategies designed to improve literacy outcomes for Indigenous students who suffer from conductive hearing loss as a consequence of otitis media. Research on the effectiveness of teaching techniques aimed at addressing the hearing loss problems associated with otitis media is limited.

The language development of Indigenous students is severely affected during the preschool years by otitis media, a disease of the middle ear. Otitis media gives rise to conductive hearing loss, which is a major factor affecting the school experiences and success of Indigenous students. The disease occurs earlier, lasts longer, and recurs more frequently among Indigenous children than among other populations. Among urban Aboriginal children, the disability is higher than in the general population, and among Aboriginal children living in remote communities up to 100% of children are likely to be affected.

Conductive hearing loss can affect the development of auditory discrimination and processing skills, phonological awareness, short term auditory memory skills, and auditory sequential memory skills, and this affects the ability of a child to perform well in literacy and numeracy skills. It may cause children to become disinterested and attend school less regularly. Consequently, it affects not only school work but also social interaction, leading to inappropriate social behaviour, as well as other negative behaviours such as irritability, disobedience, distractibility, and overactivity. In the longer term, lack of success at school can lead to failure, absenteeism, early school dropout, and reduced employment opportunities. Overcoming the negative effects on literacy learning of this disease can be expected to improve Indigenous students' success at school and subsequent academic and employment opportunities.

Please cite as: Galloway A. and the Research Project Team (2003). The implications of conductive hearing loss for literacy development of Indigenous children. In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/galloway2-abs.html

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Last revision: 14 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/galloway2-abs.html