OK School for the Deaf to field test language development apps in nationwide study

The Shawnee News-Star
Adrian Marley, an Oklahoma School for the Deaf third grader from Blanchard, uses AvePM software apps to improve his language skills.

SULPHUR, Okla. – The Oklahoma School for the Deaf has been selected as one of eight schools nationwide to field test AvePM, a suite of eight apps that track language development in students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Apps, or applications, are a type of software written for computers or mobile devices that enable users to perform various tasks. 

AvePM is correlated with national educational standards to track spoken language, American Sign Language, written language and reading achievement in students from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Eight OSD teachers and their students are field testing AvePM over the spring semester with the option to continue as part of a research study during the next school year. 

The research study will investigate whether the apps improve students' outcomes when used over time. 

“Language development is the foundation for reading, and many deaf and hard of hearing students experience language delays that inhibit their ability to read at grade level,” Dr. Sharon Baker, OSD's program developer, said.

The Gallaudet Research Center tracks deaf and hard of hearing students' performance on the SAT, a national exam. In 2011, the GRI reported that for ages 7 through 18, no age group achieved a median reading comprehension level above the 4th grade. 

“AvePM is a promising new technology that tracks progress developmentally and helps teachers of the deaf identify gaps where focused reading interventions may be applied to improve reading outcomes,” Baker added.

“OSD is highly invested in comprehensive language development for every child,” OSD Superintendent Chris Dvorak said. “Language is the foundation of academic and social development, and the essence of our

American Sign Language and English bilingual education program.

“We are hopeful that AvePM will help our teachers identify when language interventions are needed to help students improve their bilingual proficiency, which we believe will lead to improvements in reading,” Dvorak said.

OSD's Academic Language Therapist, Kristen Akerman, is coordinating AvePM on the OSD campus under the guidance of Dr. Baker.

AvePM is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant was awarded to Dr. Simon Hooper, professor of education learning, design and technology at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Simon's technology team created the apps through a partnership with Dr. Susan Rose, professor of deaf education, emerita, at the University of Minnesota.

Find out more information about AvePM at https://avepm.com/login or contact Dr. Baker at sbaker@osd.k12.ok.us or 580-622-4909..

OSD’s main campus is in Sulphur. The school serves Oklahoma students who are deaf or hard of hearing across the state. Students attend free on campus residential, commuter student and summer school educational programs. Staff also provide free outreach services for students attending other public schools, their families and teachers.

OSD is a division of Oklahoma Rehabilitation Services.