Who Should Participate in Literacy Learning?
All students of all ages need and can benefit from daily, sustained opportunities to participate in authentic literacy routines. Students need not be "ready" to begin to explore or learn about reading and writing. Everyday, we need to offer all students rich opportunities to read/ listen to and respond to high quality texts, to construct stories and messages in print for various audiences and purposes, and to learn about letters, words and conventions of reading and writing.
Whether or not it is anticipated that a student will become reasonably proficient at reading and writing in the traditional sense (though many, many students with developmental disabilities will with access to good instruction), literacy routines are the framework ("glue") that organize many school and classroom contexts. Regular, structured and informal interactions around texts (with appropriate supports) offer cognitive, social and communication benefits. Participation in literacy learning can enhance language development and communication (especially for augmentative/assisted communication users). Literacy routines can offer immediate and future opportunities for social participation, relationships and for meaningful leisure activities.
In recent years, many individuals who were presumed incapable of learning to read and write (because of characteristics of their disabilities) have learned and demonstrated unexpected and valuable literacy abilities. In order to ensure that our students reach their potential, all students must have access to quality literacy instruction throughout their schooling.