Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Barbara J. Myers


There are speculations that disabled readers may fail to correctly decode written words because they are insensitive to language's phonetic form. This insensitivity is presumed by some to be due to a speech perceptual deficit. The purpose of the current study was to assess differences between disabled and non-disabled adolescents and elementary school students in their perceptual accuracy in decoding phonetically ambiguous speech. The effects of two processing factors derived from previous research, priming and word form (e.g., Spencer & Carter, 1982), were also examined to assess how perceptual processes may differ between groups. Clinical evidence of some verbal problems persisting in adolescent disabled populations and evidence of compensatory differences between elementary and adolescent readers on earlier phonetic coding tasks prompted the inclusion of alI four age group by reading group combinations. Results reveal no reading group differences of either age grouping. The results are discussed in terms of design considerations, previous pertinent speech perception research, and similarity of responses to those of normal subjects in Spencer and Carter (1982) and Carter and Zoller (1983). With an examination of two dependent measures and a qualitative analysis of errors, no reading group differences were found. Therefore, it Is suggested that explanations involving speech perception may not appropriately address the problems of disabled readers with problems in word decoding.


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