Research page

Rationale and Research supporting See the Sound - Visual Phonics

See the Sound/Visual Phonics is a multisensory approach to phonics instruction. A large body of educational and cognitive research supports the effectiveness of both phonics instruction and multisensory approaches to learning.

A person using See the Sound/Visual Phonics hears the sound (auditory), reproduces the feeling of the sound with a hand cue (kinesthetic), and writes a symbol depicting the hand cue (visual). If one or more of these sensory pathways is compromised, the other two can compensate. It goes without saying that the more senses involved in learning, the easier, faster and more permanent the result.

A large body of reading research also identifies “motivation” as a common characteristic of good readers. It further identifies “interest level of reading material” and “fear of failure” as key factors influencing a person’s motivation to read.

See the Sound/Visual Phonics addresses both these issues. It reduces “fear of failure” by providing a consistent representation for each sound. In English orthography the letter “a” can represent several different sounds. In See the Sound Visual Phonics the symbol “A” only represents the sound of the letter ”a” in “ape.” By eliminating the need to “guess” while decoding, the meaning is not lost before all the words are successfully “read”.

See the Sound/Visual Phonics also allows beginning readers to read more complex and interesting material than what is common in most beginning reading books. It is generally known that more interested readers are more motivated readers and that meaningful practice leads to mastery.

As for the actual research base for See the Sound/Visual Phonics itself, the evidence is positive although less definitive. Definitive research in education is always problematic because of all the variables involved. However, ICLI’s research coordinator is dedicated to the development of research designs that will produce quality research for reading/spelling and for speech-language, and would love to have a dialogue with anyone interested in participating.

From its beginning in 1982 ICLI has conducted in-house research to develop and improve its programs. Because we have never been in it for the money we can afford to keep what works and drop what doesn't. In this sense we are a solidly research based program. Few educational programs on the market today have a 33 year history of research and self-improvement.

ICLI has always encouraged independent and rigorous research of its programs. Seeking always to avoid the Hawthorne effect, we have worked with individuals, schools and universities to provide whatever assistance they need in their investigations.

Because See the Sound/Visual Phonics is commonly used in conjunction with a wide variety of reading and speech programs, the research "proof" of its effectiveness can only come from looking at long term benefits over large and diverse populations. The body of literature in this vein is growing.

ICLI is not in competition educationally or financially with any program. Our only purpose has always been to help people learn to read and speak better, and we are grateful to every teacher and researcher who is doing that, whether they use our programs or not.

Educational budgets are tighter than ever. Over the years we have found that See the Sound/Visual Phonics is a very inexpensive way to make the programs on which you have already spent thousands of dollars work a little better.

Below is a list of published and unpublished research compiled by Dave Krupke, research coordinator for ICLI. For further information please contact him directly at:

Dave Krupke, M.A. CCC/SLP
Clinical Assistant Professor
Master of Speech-Language Pathology Program
College of Education and Health Sciences
St. Ambrose University
518 W. Locust Street
Davenport IA 52803
Office 563.333.3921

Research publications

• Cihon, T. M., Gardner, R., Morrison, D., and Paul, P. (2008). Using Visual Phonics as astrategic intervention to increase literacy behaviors for kindergarten participantsat-risk for reading failure. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention,5, 138-155
• Friedman Narr (2006). Teaching phonological awareness with deaf and hard of hearing students. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38, 53-58.
• Friedman Narr, R.A. (2008). Phonological awareness and decoding in Deaf/Hard of Hearing students who use visual phonics. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 13, 405-416. (
• Gardner, R., III, Chihon, T.M., Morrison, D., and Paul, P. (2013). Implementing Visual Phonics with kindergartners at-risk for reading failure. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education For Children and Youth, 57, 30-42
• Gergits, E. (2010). The application of Visual Phonics and phonological awareness interventions to address emergent literacy development in speech-language impaired preschoolers. Unpublished master’s thesis, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois
• Haarstad, L. (2010). Improve decoding with Visual Phonics. Unpublished manuscript. St. Mary’s University, Owatonna, Minnesota
• Knox, J.A., and Krupke, D. L. (2012). Enhancing the efficacy of See The Sound/Visual Phonics use by staff development attendees. I. Effect of follow-up meetings. Manuscript in preparation, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa
• Krupke, D. L., and Knox, J.A. (2013). Enhancing the efficacy of See The Sound/Visual Phonics use by staff development attendees: II. Effect of individual mentoring visits. Manuscript in preparation, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa
• Montgomery, J. (2008). Dave Krupke: What Exactly is Visual Phonics? (2008). Communication Disorders Quarterly, 29, pages 177-182. ( 
• 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, 2008, 11-26
• Smith-Stubblefield, S., and Guidi, K. (1996). A facilitating technique to improve speech intelligibility in individuals with Down’s Syndrome. Retrieved from phonics.html
• Smith, A., & Wang, Y. (2010). The impact of Visual Phonics on the phonological awareness and speech production of a student who is deaf: A case study. American annals of the deaf, 155(2), 124-130.
• Snow, M. and Morrison, D. (1991). See the Sound: Eliminating phonetic roadblocks to literature. Presentation at the Northern Plains Regional Conference of the International Reading Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 18, 1991
• Trezek & Malmgren (2005) The efficacy of utilizing a phonics treatment package with middle school deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 10, 256-271. (
• Trezek, B., Wang, Y., Woods, D., Gampp, T. L., & Paul, P. V. (2007). Using Visual Phonics to supplement beginning reading instruction for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 12, 373-384.
• Trezek & Wang (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, 202-213. (
• Waddy-Smith, B., and Wilson, V. (2003). See that sound: Visual Phonics for deaf children. Odyssey, 5, 14-17
• Wang, Y., Spychala, H., Harris, R., and Oetting, T.L. (2013). The effectiveness of a phonics-based early intervention for deaf and hard of hearing preschool children and its possible impact on reading skills in elementary school: a case study. American Annals of the Deaf, 158 (2), 107-120.
• Wilson-Favors, V. (1987). Using the Visual Phonics system to improve speech skills: A preliminary study. Perspectives for Teachers of the Hearing Impaired. Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
• Santoro, L. E., Houser, S. A., Freeman, J., Schechter, M. (2015). See the
Sound/Visual Phonics Literacy project: Promising practices to improve the
reading performance of Pennsylvania students who are deaf and hard of
hearing. Research report. King of Prussia, PA: Pennsylvania Training and
Technical Assistance Network.

More See the Sound - Visual Phonics Research

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