Linguistic Accessibility for People with Intellectual Disabilities: Influence of the Referring Expression on Text Comprehension   Catalog # 650| Supervised By: Prof. Orna Peleg, Dr. Sigal Uziel-karl  

This work was supported by a grant from Shalem Fund for Development of Services for People with Intellectual Disabilities in the Local Councils in Israel

The widely used guidelines for language simplification have been tested empirically only to a limited extent. We examined one language simplification guideline: The preference of full lexical noun phrases over pronouns. This instruction is inconsistent with studies suggesting that in the case of typically developed readers, referencing to a prominent entity by name repetition is actually more difficult to process than pronoun referencing (the “repeated name penalty”) (Gordon, Grosz, & Gilliom, 1993). However, given that other studies demonstrate the impact of memory impairment on anaphoric processes (Almor, 2000), we hypothesized that people with intellectual disability, who suffer from memory deficiency, will prefer name repetition referencing. The findings are incongruent with our hypothesis and the guideline examined: There was no evidence that name repetition was more efficient than pronouns in helping people with intellectual disability understand the texts. This stresses the importance of empirical examination of the language simplification guidelines.
Keywords: Language accessibility, language simplification, intellectual disability, repeated name penalty, anaphoric processes, full noun phrase, pronoun
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