A $1.5 million virtual reality project has improved the test scores of deaf and hearing-impaired students by an average of 35 percent overall, according to the leaders of the Virtual Reality Education for Assisted Learning (VREAL) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

When hearing-disabled students start school, they're already at a disadvantage compared to their hearing peers because they're usually behind in acquiring language skills.

"They can often be one or two grade levels behind," said Patti Schofield, a resource teacher at Lake Sybelia Elementary School in Maitland, Fla. "We have to give them a sign vocabulary in...

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