The rhyming skills of deaf children educated with phonetically augmented speechreading
Two experiments investigated whether profoundly deaf children's rhyming ability was determined by the linguistic input that they were exposed to in their early childhood. Children educated with Cued Speech (CS) were compared to other deaf children, educated orally or with sign language. In CS, speechreading is combined with manual cues that disambiguate it. The central hypothesis is that CS allows deaf children to develop accurate phonological representations, which, in turn, assist in the emergence of accurate rhyming abilities. Experiment 1 showed that the deaf children educated early with CS performed better at rhyme judgement than did other deaf children. The performance of early CS-users was not influenced by word spelling. Experiment 2 confirmed this result in a rhyme generation task. Taken together, results support the hypothesis that rhyming ability depends on early exposure to a linguistic input specifying all phonological contrasts, independently of the modality (visual or auditory) in which this input is perceived.