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Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

7 Ways To Make National Family Literacy Day, Reading More Accessible, More Inclusive

October 30, 2015

National Family Literacy Day® falls on Nov. 1 2015. This national observance often kicks off a month of family literacy activities in libraries, schools, and community settings. It is a time for educators, librarians and others to celebrate learning differences and many ways to read. Put a spotlight on accessible digital text and alternatives to print. Build a nation of readers. 

Digital, Other Alternatives

All children and youth deserve to read. Some cannot read traditional books in print due to decoding and fluency or book handling difficulties. These can impact comprehension and access to grade-level curriculum for students regardless of their intelligence. For these readers, alternative formats such as audiobooks (with and without learning supports), braille, large print, accessible PDFs and others presentations are the best way to read.

When special education teams act, eligible students receive accessible textbooks and trade books a school owns at no cost to families or schools thanks to the federally funded Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) program.

Add A Message

This year, demonstrate the value of alternatives to print in family literacy events. Be inclusive of struggling readers at your read-a-thons, celebrity appearances, book drives, and more. When schools invite parents, grandparents, and other family members into classroom for a family-school reading day, be sure that alternatives to print are part of the mix.

ReadWriteThink

Here are some ideas for hosting family literacy inclusively. We credit ReadWriteThink, a website with a mission to promote the highest quality reading and language arts instruction by offering curated free materials. Partners include the International Literacy Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Verizon Foundation. AIM-VA adds an accessibility twist to promote reading for all.

  1. RWT: Invite students' family members to read a personal favorite story, or share their child's favorite bedtime story. AIM-VA: Select books that come in an accessible version. Go to the AIM-VA Book Finder (available to all) to determine if books are published in accessible versions such as audiobooks or PDFs that best help some children read best. 
  2. RWT: Provide a collection of books for families to share during a group reading session. Invite families to get comfortable by bringing a cushion, beanbag chair, or pillow. AIM-VA: mention or show accessible editions. Ask special education teachers to provide accessible books, accessible reading websites and information about the national AEM (formerly AIM) program. 
  3. RWT: Introduce families to digital games & tools provided by ReadWriteThink. AIM-VA: Convey ways that digital learning and alternative formats may be required and often highly motivate some students to learn to read, write, and spell because print is a barrier to learning. 
  4. AIM-VA: Be choosy about digital text choices. See the Reading Rockets blog featuring AIM-VA and learn why "Not All Digital Text Is Accessible." Read the Bookshare article, "Open Up The World of Reading" to better understand accessibility features. Get the skinny from Don Johnston, Inc. on providing reading accommodations but only for students who need them in "Be Like Sherlock," on the AIM-VA blog  
  5. AIM-VA: Expand understanding about "'ear reading." See the article on the Learning Ally blog "The Great Dyslexia Balancing Act — Ear Reading vs. Eye Reading"
  6. RWT: Provide each family with a certificate of participation or a bookmark at the end of the event. Ask a local bookstore for a donation, or print certificates and bookmarks from your computer. AIM-VA: To be inclusive, any illustration should show more than one format for reading. 
  7. AIM-VA: Go ahead, be inclusive, and #SayDyslexia. Read the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education sanctioning the use of terms including "dyslexia" to describe the reading, writing, and spelling difficulties of certain students.

Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald