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Teaching Literacy to Students With Significant Disabilities

Teaching Literacy to Students With Significant Disabilities
Strategies for the K-12 Inclusive Classroom

Edited by:

February 2005 | 192 pages | Corwin
Break down literacy barriers to enrich the lives of students with significant disabilities!
All educators and family members would agree that depriving any student of the enhanced self-esteem, independence, social skills, and general quality of life afforded by literacy would be wrong. However, because of the particular challenges-perceived or otherwise-of providing literacy instruction to children and youth with significant disabilities, these students are often overlooked in receiving meaningful experiences and equal access to this aspect of the core curriculum.

Teaching Literacy to Students With Significant Disabilities offers tangible support for obliterating the obstacles to effective literacy instruction, including:

  • Effective strategies for tailoring literacy materials to students with disabilities
  • Tactics for adapting state standards and meeting No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements
  • Straightforward chapter summaries, frequently asked questions, Web sites, and other resources that reinforce key points
  • Easy-to-implement planning and assessment guidelines
Brimming with practical ideas, tips, and examples, this definitive guide offers K-12 educators the research findings and means for creating an inclusive environment that encourages students with significant disabilities to become actively engaged in literacy learning. It empowers teachers, family members, and all team members with creative, sensitive, and all-embracing ways to successfully set and meet realistic communication-development goals that yield lifelong benefits.

Douglas Fisher
About the Author
1. Literacy and a Free Appropriate Public Education
Key Concepts

What Is Literacy?

Literacy and Federal Mandates in Education

Barriers to Literacy Instruction for Students With Significant Disabilities

Attitudinal Barrier

Low Expectations

Limited Opportunities

Limited Means of Accessing Literacy

Limited Time

The Age Factor

Literacy and Quality of Life Issues




Information Gathering




Why Teach Reading to Students With Severe Disabilities?

2. Literacy and Communication
Key Concepts

The Relationship Between Communication and Literacy

Building Relationships

Reading Together

The Benefits of Play Interactions

Emergent Literacy for Students of All Ages

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices

Building Shared Experiences for Literacy Development

Documentation of Shared Experiences


Photograph Books

Tactile Books


Frequently Asked Questions

3. Planning Literacy Activities
Key Concepts

General Considerations

Literacy Rich Environments

Benefits of Learning in a General Education Classroom

Access to the Core Curriculum

Not Just Physical Presence

Identifying Literacy Goals

What Are the Literacy Goals of the Individual and the Family?

Determining Present Literacy Skills

Analyzing the Environment and the Need for Literacy Skills

Identifying When Literacy Skills Can be Taught Throughout the Day

Creating Literacy-Learning Opportunities for All Ages

Integrated Related Services

Developing Literacy Materials for Individual Students

Age Appropriateness

Individual Consuderations

Physical Considerations

Visual Considerations

Cultural Considerations

Interesting Material

High Quality

Assistive Technology

Computer Access


Frequently Asked Questions

4. Teaching Literacy Skills
Key Concepts

Concerns With Some Past Practices

General Considerations When Teaching Literacy Skills

Offering Choices

Following Interest Level

Providing Opportunities

Make Accessible

On the Spot Accommodations

Meaningful Literacy Experiences

The Use of a Daily Planner

Within Task Directions

Self-Monitoring Checklists

Language Experience Stories

Interactive and Fun

Clear Literacy Goals in Mind

Drawing Attention to Conventional Literacy

Balanced Literacy Approach

Specific Instructional Strategies

Draw Attention to the Stimulus and Shape the Response

Model the Behaviors of Reading and Writing

Check for Comprehension

Wait for a Response

Provide Corrective Feedback and Praise

Fade Instructional Support

Teaching Generalization of Skills


Frequently Asked Questions

5. Evaluating Progress: Next Steps
Key Concepts

Alternative Assessments



Review of Past Records

The Link to IEP Goals and State Standards

Adapting State Standards on Literacy

Developing Appropriate IEP Goals and Objectives

Passive Versus Active IEP Goals and Objectives

Standard Linked IEP Objectives

Procedures for Measuring Student Progress

Data Collection

Easy to Use Forms

Portfolio Assessment

Using Data for Instructional Purposed

Determining Next Steps

Review Literacy Goals

Raise Expectations

What Are the Logical Next Steps?


6. The Future for Literacy Access and Instruction
Key Concepts

Improved Strategies to Support Literacy Goals

Strengthening Early Intervention Services

Future Advances in Technology

Bridging the Research-to-Practice Gap

Impact on Personnel Preparation

Impact on Quality of Life

List of Tables
List of Figures

“Literacy is power—power to control your own life and influence the world around you. This book makes an important contribution. June Downing has challenged our assumptions about and expectations for students with significant disabilities.”

From the foreword by Douglas Fisher
Key features
  • High-profile author
  • Excellent companion to new projects in Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
  • Coverage of the NCLB Act and the 2003 reauthorization of IDEA

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452238845

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