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VL2 3/12/08 Dye Visual Attention in Deaf Individuals

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There are two contrasting hypotheses in the literature. The first suggests that deafness results in poorer visual skills due to an inability to integrate information across vision and audition. These studies report that deaf children have poorer visual attention skills, and are more easily distractible. The other view suggests that there is compensation, with visual attention skills developing in a way that allows the individual to use vision to overcome the lack of auditory information. In this presentation, Matt Dye argued for the latter approach, suggesting that the effect of deafness is to reorganize the distribution of visual attention resources across the visual field. The specificity of such changes was highlighted, and evidence that the changes are attentional and not perceptual were discussed. The role of sign language in the observed changes, the possibility of a critical period and practical implications also was addressed.

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