Written by: Belle Auld
The question: What resources and strategies work well when helping someone with a developmental disability improve his or her reading and writing skills?
The answer: Answers may vary.
You would think that after working 21 years in adult literacy – 15 as the Coordinator of the Speech Assisted Reading and Writing (SARAW) adult literacy program at Bow Valley College – I would have more of an answer than this.
I came across the following quote three days ago (in time to include it in the Answers May Vary report); it made me feel better:
“The primary barrier to learning: inflexible, one-size-fits-all curricula that raise[s] unintentional barriers. Learners with disabilities are the most vulnerable to such barriers.”
Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL) fact sheet: Universal Design for Learning. https://teal.ed.gov/sites/default/files/Fact-Sheets/2_TEAL_UDL.pdf
We do have answers – they just aren’t as cut and dried as people might like. While there may not be one answer, there are effective practices and strategies that work well for many. The Answers May Vary research report captures the knowledge and expertise of SARAW tutors who work with adults with disabilities.
For those of you who want the short version – to get to the guts of the research results quickly – the findings start on page 14; the conclusion and recommendations on page 28.
Also stay tuned, we are taking our own advice (from recommendation #3 : “A separate guidebook should be produced that lists the suggested resources, strategies, and effective practices from the results of the Answers May Vary project”). We are currently writing the Answers May Vary guidebook that will detail how to incorporate these literacy skills building activities into daily life. A series of short videos will accompany the guidebook. These resources can be used by anyone working with an adult with a developmental disability, including literacy tutors and community support workers.