Further Struggles For The Physically Disabled

I read an article that discussed the literacy difficulties for physically disabled people. I was drawn to this article because it has some details into the compounding effects that a disability can have on a students learning. Theoretically a physical disability (or any disability) should not have any affect on a student’s ability to learn to read and write as long as the appropriate resources are given to the child from the start. This study showed that this is not the experience for many individuals with physical disabilities.

Previous research has shown that a high percentage (48%) of individuals with physical disabilities perform at a low reading level. For older individuals with physical disabilities they have not had the ability to participate in the normal educational system, and therefore were often educated in separate settings which may explain their low literacy rates. This study looked to interview individuals with physical disabilities and to gain information on their feeling

The study interview twenty seven physical disabled individuals who rated their personal literacy level (most rated it poorly), and then asked them a series of questions related to their experience with literature and being physical disabled. The experience for most of the individuals was one of hardship and challenge. Their “core experiences correspond with the four common themes mentioned earlier: (a) a wide range of mostly negative emotional responses, (b) numerous difficulties experienced at school, (c) troubling attitudes and expectations of others, and (d) a continued motivation to improve literacy skills” (Carpenter, 11). When thinking about literature they had very negative responses and showed a trend of feeling inferior to those that were literate. They did not feel as though school had the resources to help them. It was not established for somebody with physical disabilities and could not provide the attention that was required for them to succeed. Some of the help that they did receive in school helped them to keep up with the work but not improve literacy (for example, tape recording the lectures). One issue with the study was that the individuals in the study were old and their realities of school may be much different from the current experience of those that are physically disabled, but they provide insight into areas that need improvement and adult education courses.

Another topic that came up that important for our work is that they felt that teachers and parents had preconceived notions of their ability level and this dictated a lot of their instruction. As educators it is our job to have faith in all of our students to succeed regardless of their disabilities. Also, we must seek out training to be prepared to teach students with disabilities.

The final discussion of the paper dealt with the importance and motivation that the physical disabled individuals put on literacy. They felt as though improved literacy was key to their social growth and that their lack of literacy has compounded the “challenges of living with a disability” (14). The physically disabled as a group are very marginalized and it is essential that they are given the resources needed for their disability so that they are not further disadvantaged due to their disability.

page created by George Hughes-Strange

Carpenter, C., Readman, Tim. (2006) EXPLORING THE LITERACY DIFFICULTIES OF PHYSICALLY DISABLED PEOPLE. Adult Basic Education; Fall2006, Vol. 16 Issue 3, p131-150, 20p