So, how do we teach a deaf or hard of hearing child to read?
Who knows. There is no one answer. The truth is, no one really knows. Some people have strong ideas about how a deaf or hard of hearing child should learn to read. We can argue with each other about which are the best practices until pigs fly.
It really depends on the child (background, family, language development, etc.).
What if the child lives in a home where there are no books and his or her caregivers are illiterate? What if the child has a learning disability? What if the child knows how to read fluently but can't comprehend what he or she reads? What if the child is profoundly deaf and his family don't sign and are unsuccessful in teaching him or her language through oral/aural methods? What if the child's family signs with the child, but not in a natural way as fluent ASL signers would sign, and the child is mainstreamed with an incompetent interpreter resulting in the child unable to fully grasp the concept of language? What if the child goes home every night to an unemployed alcoholic single father who is unable to attend to his or her needs that would help develop reading skills? What if the child's family only speaks Spanish and are afraid to approach English speaking professionals about how they can help their child? What if the child's teacher or caregiver keeps using the same method for teaching reading for years still not seeing any results? (By the way doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity).
There are so many things that can get in the way of fostering a child's reading skills, whether they are deaf/hard of hearing or not.
I remember how when I went to graduate school, I stupidly thought that I would learn a few ways that would be the best ways to teach a deaf/hard of hearing child to read that I can use with all of my future students.
Before you get up on your platform and boast to others about the best way to teach a child how to read, remember that not all children are made the same. One method does not work for all. We have to try a variety of ways until we see some success with the child and go from there. In some cases, we really have to work with the child's family and encourage them to help out.
The only sure thing I know that would definitely help a deaf/hard of hearing child to read would be for them to have a strong language base. You need language, otherwise you have next to nothing.