A sample of 327 profoundly deaf children from oral/aural (OA) and total communication (TC) programs across the country was tested on the Grammatical Analysis of Elicited Language—Simple Sentence Level (GAEL-S), which measures production of selected English language structures. Results were analyzed separately for four different response modes: the oral productions of OA children, the oral productions of TC children, the manual productions of TC children, and the combined productions of TC children.;
Percentage correct scores for the oral productions of TC children were substantially below scores for their manual productions and below the scores of OA children in all grammatical categories sampled on the GAEL-S. The percentage correct scores of OA children were significantly higher than the manual and combined production scores of TC children in more than 50% of the grammatical categories. The manual scores of TC children significantly exceeded the scores of OA children in less than 20% of the categories.;
The gap between oral and manual production of the children in total communication programs indicates that spoken English did not develop simultaneously with manually coded English and that these children educated in programs using manually coded English did not develop competence with early developing English syntax at a rate faster than those not using signs.