The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies is a unit within the Department of Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Formerly known as the Carolina Literacy Center, the CLDS was established in September, 1990 to address the literacy needs of individuals with severe speech and physical impairments in North Carolina. The CLDS has expanded its focus since then and now addresses the needs of individuals with a range of disabilities in response to the demands of families, educators, and health care professionals across the United States and the world. The CLDS has concentrated most of its resources on individuals with severe and multiple disabilities, an estimated 70-90 percent of whom read and write at levels significantly below their non-disabled peers.
I have started this blog to share what I am learning as I engage with so many interesting, informative and dedicated people – parents, researchers, and practitioners (particularly educators, speech and language therapists and early interventionists) as I am privileged to travel and work widely within the Down syndrome community.
All students, including those with significant disabilities, should be provided high quality instruction to engage in meaningful literacy activities. Many students with complex learning needs have been denied access to opportunities which foster literacy success, based upon the erroneous assumption that they could not benefit from this instruction. There is now an emerging body of research in support of literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities. While some students may not acquire generalized reading skills, literacy skills are “functional” and can enhance a student’s quality of life and lead to improved adult outcomes. Stakeholders at the state, regional, district, building, and classroom levels must incorporate the needs of students with significant disabilities into the planning, implementation, and evaluation of their literacy initiative efforts.
This Access Guide website provides a variety of tools and resources for use by educators and family members in the design and implementation of literacy based programs for students with significant disabilities. In addition to this Literacy section of the Access Guide, other key areas on the site related to literacy include the Photo/Video Library, Case Studies, and Assessment sections.
This site is for individuals interested in beginning or enhancing literacy instruction for children with combined vision and hearing loss. Its content is also designed to improve literacy instruction for children with multiple disabilities and other complex learning challenges. Our contributors include State Deaf Blind Project staff as well as teachers who want to give back to the field and help more families play a role in educating children with complex learning challenges. The instructional techniques and tips provided on this site are evidence based practices for increasing literacy skills.
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