Students who are deaf or hard of hearing from preschool through junior high are learning to “see sounds” in words with the use of visual phonics. All SASED DHH staff are now certified to use a system called See the Sound: Visual Phonics. It is a system of handshapes and written symbols that represent the sounds in English. It is not a communication system like cued speech. Instead it complements the teaching of phonics and phonemic awareness for students who cannot hear all or some of the sounds in words. The system was developed by a mother with a deaf son.
The teachers, speech therapists, and students are all excited with the implementation of Visual Phonics. Teachers have embraced this tool for teaching spelling rules, pronunciation of new vocabulary, and decoding unfamiliar words in reading. Speech therapists have found it helps students with articulation and speech reading lessons since the handshapes mimic the tongue or mouth shape for each sound. Students have found that letter combinations have rules and are not just a random sequence of symbols. Finally, they have a way of figuring out the subtle differences between similar looking words! Parents are curious about this new approach and have been eager to learn it too.