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Literacy Ideas for Students Who Are Visually Impaired with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Strategies for teaching writing, reading and other literacy skills to students who are blind or visually impaired with autism or mild intellectual disabilities.

shared reading of braille textsBy Megan Mogan, Speech-Language Pathologist

What is “Adapted Adapted Literacy“?

Over the years, you may have noticed a shift in the population of students you serve as TVIs, Speech Therapists, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, etc.  Public and Special school settings increasingly serve students who have visual impairments along with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorders.  Like many other characteristics of their diagnoses, these students have language and literacy skills that fall across a “spectrum.”  Some can read braille fluently but have no comprehension of the information.  Others have tactile defensiveness and don’t even want to come into contact with braille.  Many are visibly dissatisfied with story content that has nothing to do with them! 

We noticed a lot of adapted literacy resources in our school library and on the Internet.  We quickly realized that our students required adapted adapted literacy! No two VI students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or Mild Intellectual Disability are the same, and we felt this should be reflected in their early language and literacy instruction.

Introducing the Adapted Literacy

developed an adapted literacy framework that accounts for each individual student’s interests and background experiences.  This framework serves as a lesson plan when adapting selections from our school’s reading curriculum.  Results include meaningful and interesting stories co-written using the student’s preferred literacy mode.  Over the course of the school year our students have created a library of adapted stories, fables, poems, folktales, plays, and chants that include familiar characters (themselves), settings (their school, their homes, their favorite stores and restaurants), topics (music, pizza, the mall, etc.).  Students can now share their work independently as they demonstrate mastery of their IEP goals and objectives:

  • Answering comprehension questions
  • Sequencing
  • Sight word identification
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Staying on a shared topic
  • Answering questions about someone else     
  • Tracking
  • Matching tactual symbols with language
  • Developing social skills
  • Understanding basic concepts
  • Touching varied textures

To download a copy of our Adapted Literacy Framework, visit this page

The Ant and The Grasshopper
wonderful worms
worm hole

We have created some examples of Adapted Literacy Framework:

The Ant and the Grasshopper and Worms

Step-by-Step Guidelines for Creating Your Own Adapted Adapted Literacy Program

We have also created step-by-step guidelines for creating your own adapted adapted literacy program

The basic steps are as follows:

1. Pre-PlanningSo Say the Little Monkeys

2. Original Literature

3. Writing Process

4. Writing — the finished product!

5. Illustrating

6. Reading Aloud

7. Performing

Read more…

Tell us about your experiences with adapted adapted literacy!

Collage of Literacy and Autism Spectrum

Braille Literacy Canada

3rd Annual Braille Literacy Canada Virtual Symposium

Braille Doodle

The BrailleDoodle Kickstarter Project

Activity and strategy

Sensory Friendly Storytime