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Barry Birnbaum


All students can learn how to read, but students with intellectual disabilities (ID) often learn at a slower rate than their peers without disabilities. The purpose of this quantitative, pretest-posttest study design was to analyze whether Lively Letters (LL), a researched-based program, was a useful tool for teaching students with ID to read by using a multisensory approach. The two main theories used were Bandura’s social cognitive theory, also known as social learning theory, and Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning. Sixty-eight students participated in a self-contained program. The students’ phonological skills (PA) skills were measured before and after the LL implementation, including differences based on (a) student’s language ability (i.e., monolingual or bilingual), (b) the severity of the student’s ID (i.e., mild, moderate, or severe), and (c) their grade. Data were analyzed using z test and paired t test. The results indicated significant differences between pre and post scores for 6 of the 9 PA skills and grades, but no statistically significant differences were found based on primary language and severity of ID, and statistically significant differences were found for some, but not all, grades. The implication for a positive social change is that LL can meet the needs of monolingual and bilingual students with ID in learning how to read novel words for both academic and community-based subjects.

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