Wang, Y., Hartman, M. C., Jahromi, L. B., & Tversky, B. (2017). Better story recall by deaf children with unimodal communication . Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities , 29 (5), 699–720.

Journal Article

Wang, Y., Hartman, M. C., Jahromi, L. B., & Tversky, B. (2017). Better story recall by deaf children with unimodal communication. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 29(5), 699–720.


Dictated response; Dictated response (scribe); Hearing impairment (including deafness); K-12; Middle school; Multiple accommodations; Oral delivery; Reading; Recorded delivery (audio or video); Signed administration; Signed response; U.S. context




The focus was on comparing performance in unimodal and bimodal communication modes. Communication modes included typical signing only and SIMCOM—simultaneous sign and speech—that is, including spoken English. In both modes, the task was presented via video.


Thirty-six students with hearing impairments in grades 5 through 8 attending a state school for the Deaf in a large city in the Northeast (U.S.) participated. Demographic variables including age and gender, and other details such as home language (English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and American Sign Language/ASL), were also reported. Students' unaided pure-tone average (PTA) in the better ear was 72–120 dB, indicating "severe to profound hearing loss" (p. 707). Participants' "use of hearing-assistive devices" (p. 705) was also reported; these assistive devices were cochlear implants, used by 17 students, and hearing aids, used by 19 students.

Dependent Variable

Participants communicated however they chose—verbally or through signing, or both—the details that they recalled from the six stories that they were presented, with three presented unimodally and three presented bimodally. The story recall task performance score, which served "as a measure of working memory" (p. 705), was measured with items from, or based upon, the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (WJ III ACH; Woodcock, McGrew, & Mather, 2001) Story Recall subtest. Participants' retelling statements were videotaped and transcribed. Participants' reading ability was also independently measured with the Stanford Achievement Test–Hearing Impaired–Verbal (SAT-III).


Students with hearing aids and students with cochlear implants did not perform significantly differently as groups on the recall task, in either testing condition. Similarly, no significant differences in mean performance scores were found based on participants' ages, genders, home languages, or PTA/hearing levels. Repeated measures analyses yielded that, on average, participants scored significantly higher when presented the stories only through signing (in ASL), compared with when presented in both oral delivery of English and signing. In other words, SIMCOM yielded lower performance scores than ASL alone. The researchers suggested that the students' attention to both modes might have overloaded students; that is, receiving communication in essentially two languages simultaneously overtaxed their attentional resources. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.