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Teaching Literacy to Children with Severe Disabilities

Erickson, A. K., & Koppenhaver, A. D. (1995). Developing a literacy program for children with severe disabilities. The Reading Teacher , 48 (8), 676-684.

The authors of the article focus on their study of developing a literacy program for children with severe cognitive disabilities. The authors attempted to explore the problem of teaching students with cognitive disabilities and finding effective solutions for their problems in learning. In this regard, the authors of the article have revealed the fact that methodology alone cannot solve the problem. Instead, educators should develop effective psychological approaches to help children with cognitive disabilities to start learning successfully. The psychological support of children with disabilities is very important for them because they need to feel the support of educators, who do not push on them but, instead, help them to learn more and to learn successfully. In fact, the authors of the article insist on the importance of using individual approach to each student and, what is more, they argue that student-centered approach is crucial for the overall success of teaching students with cognitive disabilities. The student-centered approach, according to the authors, is one of the most efficient ways to help each student to succeed in learning and to use his or her full potential, in spite of cognitive disabilities. Through the student-centered approach, educators can focus on the area, where students can be successful and they help them close existing gaps in their knowledge and skills adapting learning to their needs and capabilities. In addition, the authors of the study recommend using modern technologies, especially information technologies to help children with cognitive disability to succeed in learning. Technologies can help students to learn and to develop new skills and abilities. They facilitate the process of learning to the extent that they may close the gap between average students and students with cognitive disabilities. In such a context, the ability of teachers to use technologies effectively may define the overall effectiveness of teaching of students with cognitive disabilities, but, when technologies are enhanced by student-centered approach, the authors of the article argue that outcomes of teaching are likely to be positive and students with severe cognitive disabilities can succeed in learning.

Kliewer, C., & Landis, D. (1999). Individualizing literacy instruction for young children with moderate to severe disabilities. Exceptional Children , 66 (1), 85-100.

The authors of the study focus on the issue of individualizing learning of students with cognitive disabilities. What is meant here is the fact that the authors of the article attempt to explore effects of an individualized approach to each students on his or her learning success and performance. At this point, the authors of the article support the idea that the student-centered approach can be helpful for children with cognitive disabilities because it facilitates learning and helps students to realize their full potential. At the same time, individualized learning is quite challenging and occurs at two level, institutional and local. The institutional level is the level of educational institutions and existing practices, norms, rules, technologies available to students and other issues. At the local level, educators should just help students to realize their potential and to focus on learning. The local level is the manifestation of the potential of students, whereas the task of a teacher is just to help students to use their full potential. On researching students with moderate and severe cognitive disability, the authors arrived to the conclusion that students can be successful in learning, although they point out that educators should pay a lot of attention to needs of students and their current level of cognitive and academic development. In fact, educators should elaborate curriculum and plan the teaching process on the ground of individual needs and capabilities of each student.

Downing, J. E. (2000). Augmentative communication devices: A critical aspect of assistive technology. Journal of Special Education Technology, 15 (3), 35-40.

The author of the article explores the use of augmentative communication devices in teaching to students with cognitive disabilities and the impact of these devices on the effectiveness of teaching. In this regard, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the author of the article focused his attention on the study of students with communication impairments. At the same time, the use of augmentative communication devices involves such students directly and these devices are destined to these students. On analyzing the use of different augmentative communication devices, the author of the article reveals their positive effect on the learning of students and their academic performance. On the other hand, the author identifies numerous difficulties and communication gaps students can suffer from, if they are deprived of the access to augmentative communication devices. Remarkably the author stresses that augmentative communication devices are not always sophisticated. Instead, simple devices may be used to increase the effectiveness of communication of students with cognitive disabilities related to the communication. This means that augmentative communication devices are not always expensive but they may be simple and cheap that makes them available to average students with communication problems. As a result, the author of the article recommends using augmentative communication devices to improve the communication of students with cognitive disabilities and to provide them with larger opportunities to learn effectively and successfully. In such a situation, educators and policy makers should provide each student with special needs with the possibility to use augmentative communication devices and new technologies to close communication gaps and help students with cognitive disabilities in learning.

Browder, D., & Cooper-Duffy, K. (2003). Evidence-based practices for students with severe disabilities and the requirement for accountability in “No Child Left Behind”. The Journal of Special Education , 37 (3), 157.
The authors of the article raise the problem of the implementation of the No Child Left Behind program and assessment and teaching students with cognitive disabilities. To put it more precisely, the authors of the article attempt to explore how teaching and assessment of students with cognitive disabilities changes after the implementation of the No Child Left Behind program. On conducting their study, the researchers have revealed the fact that the program’s requirement to conduct the assessment of all students in reading, math, and science contradicts to the traditional method of assessment of students with cognitive disabilities. As a rule, the functional approach was normally applied to asses skills of students with cognitive disabilities, whereas the No Child Left Behind program has changed this approach. In such a context, the researchers attempt to explore possible ways to improve the assessment of students with cognitive disabilities and to make their teaching more effective. At the same time, they conclude that teaching students with cognitive disabilities should be adapted to new requirements of the No Child Left Behind program. Therefore, they attempt to explore effective instructions and methods which can help educators to maximize the effectiveness of teaching in respect to the existing requirements in terms of the No Child Left Behind program. In this regard, the development of new assessment and instruction strategies should focus on individual needs of students and the progress they make in the course of their learning as well as on their general level of their academic development. In fact, the researchers open the way for the adaptation of education of students with cognitive disabilities to the contemporary requirements and suggest strategies that can be used in this regard.

Browder, D., Trela, K. & Jimenez, B. (2007). Training teachers to follow a task analysis to engage middle school students with moderate and severe developmental disabilities in grade-appropriate literature. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22 (4), 206-219.

This article raises an important issue – the training of educators working with students, who have cognitive disabilities. Basically, the study focuses on the revelation of the relationships between teachers’ training and their lesson planning as well as impact of their training on their teaching and students’ performance. In such a way, the purpose of the study was two-fold. On the one hand, the researchers attempted to explore the impact on and importance of training for educators in terms of their professional development. On the other hand, the researchers attempted to reveal the correlation between teachers’ training and students’ academic performance. On conducting their study, the researchers have arrived to the conclusion that teachers do need training, especially teachers, who work with students with cognitive disabilities. In fact, the study proves the fact that training has a positive impact on the work of teachers. At the same time, teachers, who have extensive training, pay more attention to lesson planning, whereas their lesson plans are much more complicated and detailed compared to teachers, who have few training hours. In such a way, educators, who are concerned with their professional development, can provide educational services of the higher quality. In addition, the authors of the article argues that students with cognitive disabilities have special needs and teachers should have extra training to work with these students successfully. On comparing the work of teachers, who had more training, compared to teachers, who had fewer training, educators arrived to the conclusion that the former are more successful in work with students with cognitive disabilities than the latter. As a result, they conclude that training improves the quality of work of educators and facilitates the learning process for students with cognitive disabilities. Therefore, trained teachers are more effective and they develop more detailed lesson plans that naturally help students with cognitive impairments to learn more successfully. In addition, new methods and approaches to teaching students with cognitive disabilities emerge and teachers can learn them through training. Otherwise, useful experience and innovations of educators will remain unnoticed, whereas the effectiveness of teaching students with cognitive disabilities will remain low.

Wolff Heller, K., & Coleman-Martin, M. B. (2007). Strategies for promoting literacy for students who have physical disabilities. Communication Disorders Quarterly , 28 (2), 69.

The authors of this article pay a lot of attention to reading strategies and teaching literacy to students with physical and speech disabilities. Basically, the authors reveal the full extent to which it is difficult for students with physical and speech impairments to learn literacy and to read successfully. In such a context, the researchers attempted to explore different teaching strategies, which could be helpful for students with cognitive disabilities. The authors of the article refer to the strategy known as the Nonverbal Reading Approach, which is applied to students with cognitive disabilities, especially if they have physical disabilities and speech impairments. The authors stand on the ground that the Nonverbal Reading Approach is very effective because it allows students to learn reading using nonverbal means of communication that naturally facilitates the process of learning and minimizes the difficulties that arise in the course of learning to read. At this point, the researchers place emphasis on the fact that reading is one of the most important skills students should develop for successful learning. However, students with cognitive disabilities have particular difficulties with developing reading skills because they have speech impairments, for instance, or other disabilities that prevent them from effective acquisition of reading skills. In such a situation, the use of effective approaches to teaching reading skills from the part of educators is particularly important because reading skills are essential for learning for a considerable part of all information students with cognitive disabilities perceive in the course of learning is received through reading.

Skylar, A. A. (2008). Assistive Technology. Journal of Special Education Technology, 23 (2), 45-50.
The author of the articles discusses benefits of using modern technologies in teaching students with cognitive disabilities. The primary concern of the author of the article is the use of iPods in teaching students with cognitive disabilities. In fact, the author stands on the ground that modern technologies can be a good solution to problems many students with cognitive disabilities face in the course of learning because of their impairments. The article draws the attention of the audience to different examples of application of modern technologies in the course of learning. The author of the article provides examples of how different teachers used modern technologies, namely iPod, in teaching students with cognitive disabilities. In fact, iPod is just one of the devices that can be used in teaching students with cognitive disabilities but it is one of the most efficient ones. Students with cognitive disabilities can enjoy the use of modern technologies, which facilitate the perception of the learning material and communication between teachers and students as well as between students. In such a way, the wide use of modern technologies, including iPods, can bring positive results to teaching students with cognitive disabilities on the condition that teachers can use the full potential of new technologies and know how to use them while teaching students with cognitive disabilities. In fact, the use of technologies can make education more accessible to students with cognitive disabilities and increase the quality of education.

Holbrook, M. C. (2008). Teaching reading and writing to students with visual impairments: Who is responsible? Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 102 (4), 203-207.

The author of the article explores problems of teaching students with visual impairment. The question poses the question of responsibility for teaching students with visual impairments. At the same time, the main point of the author is apparently to find out the ways to provide students with cognitive disabilities with possibilities to receive education and to increase the effectiveness of their learning. The author analyzes the problem of responsibility for teaching students with cognitive disabilities focusing on students with visual impairments. On exploring the question, the author reveals the fact that it is not only educators, who are responsible for teaching of students with cognitive disabilities but also communities, where they live and learn. What is meant here is the fact that local communities should assist and help educators to deliver educational services to students with cognitive disabilities. At the same time, students with visual impairments have special needs and educators along with the community should assist them to make education more available. In this regard, the author shows that the assistance from the part of the community can be diverse and vary from the routine help to create positive environment and infrastructure, which is friendly to students with cognitive disabilities, to the development of special programs for students with cognitive disabilities within local communities. The role of educators should also be very important because they are professionals and have to assist both the local community and students in their efforts to provide students with cognitive disabilities with the possibility to obtain education. In such a way, the author develops recommendations concerning the efficient models that can be applied in teaching students with students with cognitive disabilities. The arrives to the conclusion that the consultant model used for teaching students with students with cognitive disabilities should be enhanced by the high accountability of curriculum and the close cooperation between educators and local communities to help students with cognitive disabilities to meet national standards of education.

Browder, D., Gibbs, S., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Courtade, G.R., et al. (2009). Literacy for students with severe developmental disabilities: What should we teach and what should we hope to achieve? Remedial and Special Education, 30 (5), 269-282.

The authors of the article focus on the problem of teaching students with cognitive disabilities and promoting literacy among these students. In this regard, the researchers paid a particular attention to the problem of teaching students reading and they focus on the elaboration of efficient strategies that can help teachers to teach students with cognitive disabilities and to facilitate their learning. The authors of the article insist that the main point of teaching students with cognitive disabilities is to develop access skills in students. What is meant here is the fact that the ultimate point of education is not just teaching students a set of academic knowledge but educators should teach students to develop their own learning skills and access skills. Access skills imply the access of students with cognitive disabilities to education and learning materials as well as other information they may use in learning. In fact, students should be able to learn independently of educators in the course of their life after graduation from the school, college, or other educational institution. In such a way, the researcher suggest students with cognitive disabilities and teachers to reach two major outcomes, including first, enhanced quality of life through shared literature, and second, increased independence of students as readers. In such a way, the authors suggest to change consistently the model of teaching and focus not only on teaching reading skills but help students to form access skills to make them able to learn independently of educators.

Cowden, P. A. (2010). Reading strategies for students with severe disabilities. Reading Improvement, 47 (3), 162-165.

The author of the article looks for effective strategies that can help students with cognitive disabilities to learn reading successfully. The author recognizes that students with cognitive disabilities have substantial difficulties with learning because of their physical disabilities they may have limited abilities to learn as effectively as average students. At the same time, the author argues that it is possible to improve the academic performance of students with cognitive disabilities on the condition of application of effective teaching strategy. In this regard, the author suggests the constructive approach, which he believes to be efficient and recommends teachers to apply this method in their work with students with cognitive disabilities. At the same time, the author places emphasis on the fact that teachers should change the environment of students with cognitive disabilities. In fact, traditionally, students with severe disabilities learn in special classrooms that means that they learn in isolation from the rest of students. In this regard, the author suggests to change this approach to teaching students with cognitive disabilities pointblank. He insists on the necessity of integration of students with cognitive disabilities into regular classrooms. The study reveals the fact that the performance of students with cognitive disabilities integrated in regular classrooms improves consistently compared to students with cognitive disabilities, who learn in isolation from average classrooms focusing entirely on students with cognitive disabilities environment. In such a way, the author insists on the inclusion and integration of students with cognitive disabilities into regular classrooms.

 

References:

Browder, D., & Cooper-Duffy, K. (2003). Evidence-based practices for students with severe disabilities and the requirement for accountability in “No Child Left Behind”. The Journal of Special Education , 37 (3), 157.
Browder, D., Gibbs, S., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Courtade, G.R., et al. (2009). Literacy for students with severe developmental disabilities: What should we teach and what should we hope to achieve? Remedial and Special Education, 30 (5), 269-282.
Browder, D., Trela, K. & Jimenez, B. (2007). Training teachers to follow a task analysis to engage middle school students with moderate and severe developmental disabilities in grade-appropriate literature. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22 (4), 206-219.
Cowden, P. A. (2010). Reading strategies for students with severe disabilities. Reading Improvement, 47 (3), 162-165.
Downing, J. E. (2000). Augmentative communication devices: A critical aspect of assistive technology. Journal of Special Education Technology, 15 (3), 35-40.
Erickson, A. K., & Koppenhaver, A. D. (1995). Developing a literacy program for children with severe disabilities. The Reading Teacher, 48 (8), 676-684.
Holbrook, M. C. (2008). Teaching reading and writing to students with visual impairments: Who is responsible? Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 102 (4), 203-207.
Kliewer, C., & Landis, D. (1999). Individualizing literacy instruction for young children with moderate to severe disabilities. Exceptional Children, 66 (1), 85-100.
Skylar, A. A. (2008). Assistive Technology. Journal of Special Education Technology, 23 (2), 45-50.
Wolff Heller, K., & Coleman-Martin, M. B. (2007). Strategies for promoting literacy for students who have physical disabilities. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 28 (2), 69.