Moving Beyond Inclusion: Effective Approaches to Promote Literacy for Students with Disabilities in the Classroom

Americas, Events, June 13 2018

NEW YORK, USA: For those in New York for the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD, please join: US AID and the Global Reading Network

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 from 11.45am-1.00pm at United Nations Headquarters, Room CR B

Due in large part to ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), many countries are moving towards implementing an inclusive education system. Although there is a promising emergence of policies and strategic plans that promote inclusion, many schools are struggling to appropriately adapt curriculum and modify classroom instruction for students with different types of disabilities. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) partners with other U.S. government agencies, donors, country governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, and the private sector to ensure equitable access to inclusive, quality education for all – especially the most marginalized and vulnerable. This includes ensuring that students with disabilities are benefiting from USAID’s education programming and gaining valuable literacy skills. This side event will bring together diverse partners to discuss effective research-based approaches and lessons learned from USAID programming that promote the acquisition of literacy skills for all students with disabilities.

  • Ola Abu Alghaib, Director Global Influencing and Research, Leonard Cheshire Disability, will set the foundation for the discussion, highlighting the realities of literacy for children with disabilities in developing countries.
  • Josh Josa, Disability Inclusive Education Specialist, USAID, will highlight USAID’s support and programming
    related to promoting literacy skills for students with disabilities.
  • Anne Hayes, International Inclusive Education Consultant, will provide an overview of the USAID Toolkit for
    Literacy for Students with Disabilities.
  • Colin Allen, Chair of IDA, will provide concluding remarks as well as provide insight on where IDA members
    would like to see literacy programming move towards in the future.
  • Deepa Srikantaiah, Senior Researcher, USAID’s Reading with Reach Project at URC, Panel Moderator
    Richard Felty, Project Coordinator, USAID’s Reading with Reach Project at URC, Technical Support

Literacy is a core component of daily living. Too often, however, misperceptions of capacity and the lack of knowledge related to effective literacy techniques results in students with disabilities being denied important literacy skills. In an effort to increase global understanding of the importance of literacy skills for students with disabilities, USAID is supporting the development of a toolkit on this very important topic. This evidence-based toolkit, implemented by the University Research Co., LLC (URC) REACH project, was developed in a participatory manner that included expert interviews, an extensive desk review of documents, academic articles and other relevant materials, input on the focus of content provided by a survey sent out to more than 700 individuals, an in-person experts meeting and a focused review process with disabled persons organizations (DPOs), technical experts and practitioners.
The toolkit emphasizes that all children can learn and should be given the opportunity to obtain literacy skills. This signifies allowing for a broader definition of literacy that goes beyond a focus on written and printed text and recognizes that there are different ways to “read.” The toolkit also supports learning literacy skills in an inclusive educational setting(1) that is aligned with the CRPD and General Comments No. 4 on Implementing Article 24 of the CRPD. Case studies are used throughout the toolkit to demonstrate how different supports and instructional techniques have been implemented successfully in different environments with different levels of financial resources. The Toolkit focuses on three key areas:

  1. The holistic supports needed to support literacy acquisition for students with different types of disabilities
  2. Different instructional techniques to support different types of learning using the principles of Universal Design for Learning
  3. Recommendations for moving from theory to practice, including suggestions for programmatic funding aligned with the CRPD.

The toolkit will be officially released on July 9th with an additional webinar taking place at the end of July to discuss how the toolkit can be used in low-and middle-income countries. Information on the upcoming webinar will be available soon through the Global Reading Network.

(1) The toolkit recommends inclusion for all students and follows the World Federation of the Deaf’s interpretation of inclusion for students who are deaf/hard of hearing, which allows for a communication-rich environment where they can engage with their peers and adults using local sign language while learning the written text of their country.

Source: IDA_CRDP Forum

Re-posted with permission.

US AID and Global Reading Network Logos

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