The Relationship Between 6/9 Distance Vision, Otitis Media with Effusion and Emergent Letter Name Knowledge
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Background: There is a need for more well-controlled research on the relationship between vision and hearing limitations and emergent literacy to inform early literacy intervention. Two highly prevalent difficulties of early childhood, poor distance visual acuity and otitis media with effusion (OME), have been shown to be associated with literacy achievement. There is little research, however, on the relationship between these conditions and emergent literacy. Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the relationships between (1) distance visual acuity and emergent letter name knowledge, and (2) OME status and emergent letter name knowledge in children at school entry. Method: A prospective cohort of children (N=298) was recruited at school entry. Participants were aged 5, did not require special education for high needs and spoke a nationally recognized language of New Zealand. Distance vision and tympanometry testing was performed and a parent report of OME was obtained. The Wechsler Individual Test of Letter Name Knowledge and the Vocabulary and Block Design sub-tests of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children were administered. Covariates of reading achievement were also measured. Results: Twenty three percent of children knew fewer than 4 letters at school entry, 31.9% had marginal distance visual acuity of 6/9 in one or both eyes and 37.2% had a history of ear infections and/or a B tympanometry test at school entry. Logistic regression tests demonstrated that both 6/9 vision (OR= 2.069, CI0.95=0.999-4.227) and OME status 10 (OR=1.846, CI0.95=1.034-3.297) were significantly associated with low letter name knowledge at school entry, controlling for covariates of emergent literacy. Another analysis showed that children with 6/9 vision and/or OME at school entry were also at greater risk for low letter knowledge (OR=2.187, CI0.95=1.067 – 4.484) than children with 6/6 vision and no OME at school entry. Conclusions: The results of the current study indicate that 6/9 distance vision and OME are risk factors for low letter name knowledge at school entry. These factors warrant greater consideration with regard to early literacy intervention, classroom teaching practices and future research.