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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:

May 2005 | 192 pages | Corwin
Including students with severe disabilities in mainstream classrooms has become more and more common. These severe disabilities include both physical and intellectual, and the Downing project tackles the most common subject area for inclusion - literacy. Covering a wide age spectrum the author looks at:

- accessing the general curriculum;

- literary activities;

- parental involvement;

- pre- and post-assessment;

- IEPs;

- peer support;

- school-wide approaches;

- evaluation and grading;

- goal-setting.

The project also includes very practitioner-oriented pedagogy, including Frequently Asked Questions, chapter by chapter references, bibliography with short summaries, and relevant websites.

June Downing is a Professor at California State University, Northridge, where she prepares teachers to work in the area of moderate/severe disabilities. She has been the project director of numerous federally-funded projects to train teachers. For the past 16 years, her focus in teacher preparation has been in the area of inclusive education.

After receiving her BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Dr. Downing went on to pursue her training at the University of Northern Colorado where she earned an MA in special education with an emphasis in visual impairments. Her Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in severe and multiple disabilities, including sensory impairments, is from the University of Arizona.

She is currently on the editorial board of The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps and Augmentative and Alternative Communication and has published numerous articles, monographs, training modules, and book chapters in her areas of expertise.

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

For instructors

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ISBN: 9780761988793
ISBN: 9780761988786

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