This study investigated whether deafness contributes to enhancement of visual spatial cognition independent of knowledge of a sign language. Congenitally deaf school children in India who were born to hearing parents and were not exposed to any sign language, and matched hearing controls, were given a test of digit span and five tests that measured visual spatial skills. The deaf group showed shorter digit span than the hearing group, consistent with previous studies. Deaf and hearing children did not differ in their performance on the visual spatial skills tests, suggesting that deafness per se may not be a sufficient factor for enhancement of visual spatial cognition. Early exposure to a sign language and fluent sign skills may be the critical factors that lead to differential development of visual spatial skills in deaf people.

Publication Date



This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 1:2 Spring 1996 is available online at: http://jdsde.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/1/2/145.Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

American Sign Language and Interpreting Education (NTID)


RIT – Main Campus