Research/Evidence Base

See the Sound/Visual Phonics (aka Visual Phonics) was originally “founded” by survey research (Snow & Morrison, 1991), followed by a smattering of research connected to literacy and speech therapy over the next 25 years. Formal research and data gathering has received a renewed impetus in the past 5 years, and is providing research-based and evidence-based support for the anecdotal evidence that has been ongoing throughout Visual Phonics’ history.

Formal research studies by Trezek and her colleagues (2005, 2006 & 2007) have shown Visual Phonics to be an effective strategy for literacy with deaf/hearing impaired students in elementary and middle school populations. Recent research by Cihon et al (2008) examined the impact of Visual Phonics as an intervention for Kindergarten children who are falling behind using the regular curriculum, and found post-intervention gains on both the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and the curriculum based assessment for the students who participated in the intervention. Study data also suggested that target group students performed similarly to grade level peers who were at benchmark based on DIBELS and who did not receive the intervention.

Evidence-based data is showing:

  • earlier Alphabetic Principle skills for Kindergarteners, as students are learning 95-100% of the  letters and their corresponding sounds by November/December (as compared to late January to late March prior to the introduction of Visual Phonics)
  • a decrease in summer drop-off between Kindergarten & 1st grade
  • an increase in sight word knowledge in 1st grade Title One Reading students
  • earlier writing in Kindergarten
  • improved nonsense word fluency on winter DIBELS in Kindergarten
  • District-wide higher DIBELS scores for initial sound fluency in Kindergarten, as compared to the previous 6 years
  • significant decreases in b-d confusions
  • trend line “up-ticks” for oral reading fluency for 2nd grade LD-Resource & Special Reading students, resulting in parallel & converging data plots when compared to grade-level peers

Research and data gathering are ongoing, especially with hearing children.


Cihon, M, Gardner, R., Morrison, D., & Paul, V.P. (2008). Using Visual Phonics as a Strategic Intervention to Increase Literacy Behaviors for Kindergarten Participants At-Risk for Reading Failure. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention. 5(3), 138-154.

Haarstad, L. (2010). Improve Decoding with Visual Phonics. Unpublished manuscript. St. Mary’s University, Owatonna, Minnesota

Knox, J.A., and Krupke, D. L. (2015). The Effect of See the Sound-Visual Phonics on the Decoding Abilities of First Grade Students. Unpublished manuscript, St. Ambrose University, Davenport Iowa.

Morrison, D., Trezek, B.J., and Paul, P.V. (2008) Can You See that Sound? A Rationale for a Multisensory Tool for Struggling Readers. Balanced Reading Instruction, Spring, 11-26.

Snow, M. & Morrison, D. (1991, Oct. 18). See The Sound: Eliminating Phonetic Roadblocks to Literature. Presentation at IRA Northern
Plains Regional Conference.

Trezek, B. J. & Malmgren, K. W. (2005). The efficacy of utilizing a phonics treatment package with middle school deaf and hard-of-hearing participants. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 10(3), 257-271.

Trezek, B. J. & Wang, Y. (2006). Implications of utilizing a phonics-based reading curriculum with children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 11(2), 202-213.

Trezek, B. J., Wang, Y., Woods, D. G., Gampp, T. L., & Paul, P. V. (2007). Using Visual Phonics to supplement beginning reading instruction for participants who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 12(3), 373-384.