Grasping Grammar: How a WTEF Grant Provides a New Pathway for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

November, 2023

Those of us who have the capacity to hear use that sense in a profound way when we learn to read. For those of us who are deaf or hard of hearing, the process of learning to read needs to be different.

Holly King, who is a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) at Bridgeport Elementary, knows this very well.

“According to the National Center for Special Education Research, one in five deaf students who graduate from high school have reading skills at or below a second-grade level,” Mrs. King said. “Curricula used to teach the general education population to read is based on phonics. Deaf and Hard of Hearing students do not hear sounds in the same way, making a phonics-based approach very difficult and in some cases impossible.”

Mrs. King has seen this first-hand in her classroom She has found that the DHH students she teaches often lack a foundation or understanding of grammar. “So this prompted me to look for a different grammar curriculum particularly written for deaf students,” she said.

Mrs. King’s quest to find a better way to teach grammar to her students led her to discover the Bilingual Grammar Curriculum, a comprehensive approach to teaching DHH children the rules for American Sign Language (ASL) and English grammar. Lacking the funding to purchase the curriculum, Mrs. King turned to the Wayne Township Education Foundation. A WTEF grant allowed Mrs. King to buy the curriculum, and it is now in place for students at Bridgeport.

It is truly a comprehensive approach, Mrs. King said. “Bilingual Grammar Curriculum is a digital resource that provides coordinated ASL and English lesson plans that include developmental objectives, materials, step-by-step procedures, teacher notes describing unique instructional and linguistic features, supporting videos, printed materials, formative and summative assessments, and progress monitoring. Its purpose is to free teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing from the need to tweak grammar instruction designed for hearing students to work for deaf students.”

Mrs. King has recently used the curriculum to work on the concept of subjects and predicates with her students. The new curriculum is making a noticeable difference.

“As a teacher, it is so exciting to see students begin to understand grammar and want to learn,” Mrs. King said. “They are starting to apply these skills of subject and predicate development to reading and writing. This is one of the first times the students have been able to recall information from day to day without prompts relating to subjects and predicates.”

The new pathway for teaching grammar to DHH students in Wayne will help close the learning gap caused by language delays, Mrs. King predicts, and is bringing more joy to students and teachers during the learning process. She is grateful for the grant that made it possible: “The curriculum would not have been possible without the help of WTEF.”

The Wayne Township Education Foundation (WTEF) provides community leadership to enrich, engage, and stimulate teaching and learning in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township. WTEF accomplishes this by supporting school programs and resources, while recognizing excellence among students and staff. To learn more about WTEF, call 317-988-7966, visit, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @WayneTwpEdFound.