Prof cited for seminal article on literacy and deaf education

An article co-authored by York education Prof. Connie Mayer and researcher Gordon Wells has been selected by Oxford University Press (OUP) as one of 100 seminal papers it has published in the century since it began printing learned journals. 

                                        Right: Connie Mayer

The article, “Can the linguistic interdependence theory support a bilingual-bicultural model of literacy education for deaf students?”, appeared in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education (JDSDE) in 1996. According to the citation, the paper is “the most frequently cited article ever published in JDSDE and it is hard to overestimate its importance to the field of deaf education. It has had a much broader impact, however, from education to anthropology and from cultural studies to linguistics, garnering attention for its authors as well as for JDSDE and OUP.

“Mayer and Wells (1996) took up the long-standing issue of deaf children’s difficulty in acquiring print literacy. While acknowledging the importance of natural sign languages to the development and education of deaf children, they showed that the claim that English literacy can be achieved without exposure to English in some form is untenable. Their balanced and well-reasoned counter-argument offered new directions for research and practice aimed at fostering literacy development in deaf children and helped to change the perceptions of educators, researchers and parents of deaf children throughout the world.” 

Mayer holds a doctorate from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and has been teaching full time in York’s Faculty of Education since 2002. She is known internationally for her work in language and literacy development with students who are deaf and hard of hearing, and for her study of bilingual models of literacy education. Her research on the effectiveness of two-way text messaging through pagers in enhancing the educational experience of deaf and hard-of-hearing students has received wide coverage in the media.

Wells is an education professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He was teaching at OISE when he co-wrote the article with Mayer.

For the full list of 100 seminal articles, selected from 180 Oxford journals, visit the OUP Web site.