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Enhancing the Literacy Experience for Students who are Deafblind Presenter: Deirdre Leech, M.Ed. Perkins School for the Blind Deafblind Program.

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Presentation on theme: "Enhancing the Literacy Experience for Students who are Deafblind Presenter: Deirdre Leech, M.Ed. Perkins School for the Blind Deafblind Program."— Presentation transcript:


2 Enhancing the Literacy Experience for Students who are Deafblind Presenter: Deirdre Leech, M.Ed. Perkins School for the Blind Deafblind Program

3 OverviewOverview Literacy challenges for students with Deafblindness and Multiple Disabilities Ideas on how to encourage other teachers of Deafblind students to incorporate literacy into the school day Several ways to adapt books for all types of learners

4 What is literacy? Old definition: “ability to read and write”

5 New definition: “Proficiency in understanding and using written as well as spoken language as a reader, writer, speaker, and listener. Literacy is an integrated process which develops gradually from birth and is built upon learning from broad experiences, linking language with the development of concepts, and providing exposure to the written word in a variety of meaningful contexts” (Wright, 1997).

6 Goals of Reading & Writing Reading: for the reader to obtain meaning from text and apply it to the world and oneself. Writing: to communicate an individual’s understanding of the world and themself through written text. (Koppenhaver, 2000)

7 ChallengesChallenges Children with Deafblindness have limited opportunities for incidental learning Reduced exposure to literacy Lack of early experiences Read aloud to less Lack of readily available materials Motivation

8 Lack of Early Literacy Experiences Child may not oversee parents and siblings reading newspapers, writing out grocery lists, and reading books May not hear or process language in stories being read aloud For medically fragile children, medical interventions often take precedence over other learning opportunities, including literacy

9 Lack of Early Literacy Experiences Delayed concept development due to: visual impairments hearing impairments motor impairments health issues behavioral issues

10 Lack of Exposure to Stories Read Aloud Limited opportunity for reading time Limited access to appropriate print materials Access to dual media books (Braille/Print/auditory/tactile) Limited sign language capabilities to communicate the story Incorporating individual communication strategies “Reading aloud regularly to a child from infancy is the most important factor in building a foundation for the enjoyment and success in reading”

11 Lack of Motivation Child See no value in books or reading May only be motivated by music, sounds, flip-ups, tactile components, movement Parents May not get enough feedback or response from child May think story time is not enjoyable for child Teachers Time consuming to make materials Diversity of students in classroom

12 Motivating Books

13 What are some strategies to incorporate literacy throughout the school day and at home?

14 Modify the environment Exposure, exposure, exposure! Display visual, tactile, and sign language alphabets Label the environment Use Bulletin boards Thematic Unit vocabulary, display favorite books Organize room Accessibility to materials (height, distance) Name symbols (labeling, attendance cards)

15 Modify the Environment

16 Encourage Book Handling Skills Books have: Top and bottom Front and back Title and Author We read print/Braille from left to right, top to bottom Explore books through touching and feeling

17 Have several options available A typical classroom has many shelves of books for a child to choose from Children who are Deafblind do not have this many choices available for many reasons Don’t just go to the library, create your own personal library in classroom/home!

18 Reading Activities

19 Read aloud Reading aloud regularly to a child from infancy is the most important factor in building a foundation for the enjoyment and success in reading

20 Create Story Boxes & Literacy Kits Story box includes: Props related to the story Adapted book(s) appropriate for each student Switches Literacy Kit includes: Story box Communication boards Extension activities Worksheets Games Electronic activities Assessment

21 Story Boxes Objects only Repetitive line picture book with objects and materials Story books with materials Curriculum books with materials ConcreteAbstract

22 Story Boxes and Literacy Kits

23 Story Boxes/Literacy Kits


25 Supporting Activities Preview & Review Vocabulary Book reports Sentence starters Questions Curriculum activities Expanded CORE curriculum

26 Supporting Activities Address the expanded CORE curriculum Cooking recipe related to book Community experience Grocery shopping Special events Museums

27 Adapting Books

28 Student Considerations Visual Tactile Physical Cognitive Lesson goals and objectives

29 Goals of the Lesson Teaching reading skills (decoding) Simplified language Length of text on each page Material includes familiar vocabulary Content is interesting Comprehension skills Use more listening (attention) skills Include picture and/or symbol support Assessment activity

30 Adapting books Modifications to the TEXT Modifications to the PICTURES Modifications to the BOOK

31 Modifications to the TEXT Make text accessible by adding Braille Make text accessible by replacing smaller print with enlarged print Provide contrast Simplify the content If student is not reading print or Braille at the level of the text in the book Support print with picture or tactile symbols

32 Modifications to the TEXT

33 Modifications to the PICTURE Simplify the background Make accessible for student with CVI Highlight the main idea of the picture Provide tactile enhancement to the picture


35 Modifications to the BOOK Use cardboard to make pages thicker, easier to manipulate, and more durable Add “page fluffers” Rebind the book so it stays open more easily Take pages out and put into protective sheets Laminate pages Tactile enhancements


37 Modifications to the BOOK Books that are on tape or CD can be adapted with a switch so that a student can continue to read the story by activating the switch Create an electronic version of the book Tape, CD, MP3 PPT or other software Can be made accessible using a switch or touch-screen


39 Electronic Books Audiobooks On the computer Include animations Motivation Adapted with appropriate pictures and text Accessibility Attention Physical Cognition

40 Writing Activities

41 Make your own books Fun and engaging activity Promotes language skills Teaches books can be different: Shape and size have different parts (pages, cover, etc.) may contain pictures and writing Book skills read left to right Written by author (Swenson, 1999, p.27)

42 Make Concept Books Create books that describe abstract ideas and objects such as: Actions Emotions Colors Shapes Size Spatial relationships

43 Write Experience Stories Together Students participate in activities then write a story based on the experience Stories incorporate real life experiences that may be fun and memorable Experience stories can be written using objects, pictures, print or any combination Experience stories can be reviewed at any time and brought back out as routine/experience is repeated

44 Write Social Stories Together Definition Teaching a skill Stories incorporate real life experiences that may be routines that are stressful and require desensitization Social stories can be reviewed at any time and brought back out as routine/experience is repeated They evolve

45 Example Experience Story

46 Compose Journals/Home Books Develop memory skills: activities or events that occurred earlier in the day are reviewed and documented Writing may take form of objects, pictures, line drawings, print, or voice output devices Take child’s communication mode/level into consideration

47 Write letters together Writing letters is a motivating activity to encourage and practice many literacy skills. Sentence structure, Braille, vocabulary Letters can take shape in many different formats including partial objects, pictures, print, Braille, or any combination of these.

48 Name Writing For work samples, vocational jobs, signing cards: Stencils Name stamps Stickers Student’s initials Tactile name symbol

49 Name Writing

50 Universal Access Write using symbols/text that the student understands Objects, tactile symbols, Braille Pictures, MJ symbols, drawings, text Display “text” in an accessible format Slant board, book, sequence boxes

51 Universal Access Incorporating Technology Computer access Reading Writing Communication devices Switches

52 “Researchers in the field of emergent literacy define written language as beginning at birth and continuing throughout life. Consequently, written language activities should not be withheld while waiting for speech, language, and cognition to reach a prerequisite level” (Koppenhaver, 2000).

53 Functions of Reading and Writing

54 Assessment Strategies Use meaningful activities Find ways to increase independence Assistive tech Design of the activity Teaching time vs assessment time Purposely change things and observe Invert letters, text, pictures, sentences

55 Positive Literacy Outcomes Discover that books are fun Foster a desire to read Awareness that symbols represent meaning Understand that stories come from print Awareness of the structure of a story Hearing “book language” as different from “conversational language” Develop new vocabulary Learn book handling skills (Stratton, 1996; Newbold, 2002)

56 What Now? Prioritize what to do first Meet with the team Connect this to the IEP Goals Try one thing; OK if it’s not perfect before you try it out!

57 Every Child is a Potential Reader

58 Questions, Comments & Discussion

59 Thank you for Coming!

60 Works Cited Koppenhaver, D. 2000. Literay in AAC: What should be written on the envelope we push? Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 16, 270-279. Miles, B. 2000. Literacy for persons who are deaf-blind. Monmouth, OR: DB-LINK: The National Information Clearinghouse on Children Who Are Deaf-Blind. Miller, Cyral. 2001. What is the Expanded Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students? See/Hear. Musslewhite, C. & King-DeBaun, P. (1997). Emergent Literacy Success: Merging Technology and Whole Language for Students with Disabilities. Park City, UT: Creative Communicating. Newbold, S. 2000. Emergent literacy for young blind children. Phoenix: The Foundation for Blind Children

61 Reading Language Arts: Shared reading. From the MCPS Early Literacy Guide. Retrieved April 29, 2005, from ml ml Spadorcia, S. & Sturm. (2001). Literacy Kits. Adapted from K. Erickson. Handout from Graduate Course: Emergent Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Children with Severe Special Needs (ESPED 6127 Section 21). Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. 2003. Stratton, J. 1996. Emergent literacy: A new perspective. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 90(3), 177-18 Swenson, A. 1999. Beginning with braille: Firsthand experiences with a balanced approach to literacy. New York: AFB Press.

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