Considering the Roles of Aurality in Literacy Processes

The roles that aurality play in learning to read and write is a topic that I find very fascinating and intriguing, especially when it comes to considering how music and traditional literacy practices may correlate. I think it is also important, however, to recognize how not everyone has the same aural experience when beginning their literacy journey, particularly those who are born deaf/hard of hearing. The two narratives that I have selected from the DALN shed insight into these situations. While I include brief highlights from both of these stories, please take advantage of the opportunity to watch, listen to, and read the full narratives of these amazing literacy experiences by following the respective links. Enjoy!

In her narrative, Pamela Saunders discusses how she believes reading and writing music to be a form of literacy. In doing so, she compares the traditional literacy process of learning to read and write alphabetic texts with the process of learning to read and write music. For her, both of these forms of literacy started aurally. By having her mother read the same books to her at night, she began to memorize the words that she heard with the act of turning the pages to the point where she could recite the stories and flip the pages of the books in a way that mimicked reading. Similarly, learning to read music began with her learning to match a sound or pitch and later being able to identify the visual note on the staff based on the sound that she heard.

Jane Fernandes’s three-part narrative provides insight into the differences in learning to read and write when deaf. When asked about the types of literacy artifacts that she may have had in her house to help her learn to read, she shares, “my mother had words for verbs and nouns and adjectives. They were taped all over, everywhere, in the house. Both the words and the phonetics.” Additionally, she wore hearing aids that helped her learn pronunciation and phonics. She also addresses the positive impact digital technologies have had on literacy and communication, providing her with confidence and solutions for some of the struggles she faces. She does note, however, that although the Internet is a powerful tool, people are increasingly posting videos without providing scripts or captions, which ends up making much of the content (as of 2007, when this interview was conducted) on the Internet inaccessible to people who are deaf.

If you have any particular DALN favorites or topics that you’d like to see on the DALN blog, please email me at



Photo credit: mikael altemark