Often people believe that literacy is something that starts to percolate in kindergarten and first grade when children begin to learn to read. In fact, literacy, like communication, begins early in life. Children grow up understanding that the world is full of colorful signs, letters, and numbers that have meaning.
For children with disabilities, especially those with complex needs and sensory issues, literacy can be a challenge. These children have far less incidental access to our literacy-rich world and often need intensive and thoughtful learning experiences to provide them with the skills needed to insure their quality of life.
Literacy for Children Who Are Deaf-Blind
What strategies for literacy learning work best for children who have combined hearing and vision loss?
That was the question posed by the members of the Literacy Practice Partnership, a National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness network initiative that included state deaf-blind project and university partners. The Literacy for Children With Combined Hearing and Vision Loss website grew out of their efforts to present a broader perspective on skills and to demonstrate ways that children, regardless of skill level, could progress along the continuum of literacy development. They have built a central location for families, technical assistance providers, and educators to explore ways of increasing literacy opportunities for children. They have delivered a site full of solid examples and strategies for developing literacy activities that also facilitate interrelated skills such as communication, socialization, concept development, and attention.
Although the site is titled “Literacy for Children with Combined Hearing and Vision Loss,” the strategies presented are effective for a wide variety of learners.
What Will You Find?
The site uses stages of literacy development along with key components of reading (vocabulary, comprehension, fluency) to organize plans, activities, and video examples that can be used at home or in the classroom. It offers creative ways to teach literacy in the context of what makes sense to a particular child. Here:
- A parent can find ways to model reading behavior to their toddler who is deaf and has limited vision
- A teacher can find examples of tactile experience books
- An early interventionist can find ways to use routines to develop concepts
The site is meant to serve as a model for a web-based technical assistance tool that can be used to support the collaborative activities of the deaf-blind network and the partners with whom we work. Check back as the site continues to grow as a repository of ideas and solutions.
Check the site out: http://literacy.nationaldb.org/
The National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) is the national technical assistance and dissemination center for children and youth who are deaf-blind. NCDB works collaboratively with families, federal, and state and local agencies to provide technical assistance, information, and personnel training. Visit our website at nationaldb.org