Associate Professor Dianne Toe is Acting Head of the School of Education at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. Since 1983, she has worked in the fields of Psychology, Audiology, Deaf Education and Teacher Education. Dianne has extensive experience in preparing teachers to work in inclusive settings. She has published widely on the topic of pragmatic skills of children and young people who are deaf and hard of hearing and continues to develop new pragmatics research projects.
Pragmatics has often been described as a subset of language, sharing equal billing with other subsystems such as syntax and semantics. Over recent decades, however, the role of pragmatics has gained attention and increased status as an overarching driver in communication. Moreover, it is now understood that pragmatics is closely related to a range of other aspects of child development including cognition, Theory of Mind, executive functioning, and social and emotional development and may have a pivotal role in supporting these aspects of development. This paper will examine the development of pragmatic skills in children and young people who are deaf and hard of hearing and its role in supporting communication skills. Using my own research and the wider literature, this presentation will identify areas of pragmatic strength and aspects of challenge for deaf learners and identify valuable new directions for further research.