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Researchers have long highlighted the need to apply evidence-based approaches to writing instruction for students who are 1d/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Dhh). Yet, the majority of the research base for effective writing instruction and intervention is based on studies of hearing children, with or without disability labels. Therefore, existing interventions often fail to account for the unique language and literacy needs of d/Dhh students. In this article we describe an approach that enhances the power of Interactive Writing (IW) instruction, an evidence-based approach for typically developing students, that is specifically designed to engage and support d/Dhh learners. We begin by providing a brief historical overview of IW instruction as it is often used in contemporary general education classrooms. Then, we describe evidence of the unique language and literacy development of d/Dhh students from a series of recent studies related to Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) with d/Dhh students. Finally, we present the language zone in the form of a flowchart, which illustrates the teacher decision making process when responding to d/Dhh students’ various language needs in the context of IW. We conclude by illustrating examples of the language zone in use and discussing the implications of this approach for d/Dhh learners.


This is a pre-print, author-produced PDF of an article later published in Writing & Pedagogy. Citation information below: Dostal, H., Wolbers, K. & Kilpatrick, J. (2019). The Language Zone: Differentiating writing instruction for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Writing & Pedagogy, 11(1). The post-print version of the article is also available in TRACE:

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