This review of scientific literature addresses the need to better understand the teaching approaches and practices that are most likely to foster the development of literacy skills (speaking, reading and writing) in students with a moderate to severe intellectual disability (MS/ID).

It identifies what young people can learn in their preschool, elementary and high school age groups and describes the impacts of literacy teaching practices in light of the characteristics of these young people, including the individuals who use alternative communication systems other than speaking, and the support provided by teaching practices that rely on digital technologies.

The literature, most of which is in English and focused on reading, reveals the lack of theory-based approaches to language learning. This particular finding impacts the understanding and actions of stakeholders (practitioners and researchers) seeking to implement teaching conditions that support literacy skills development. Only research syntheses by national organizations (e.g., National Reading Panel, 2000) constitute the empirical foundations. 
An analysis of the scientific literature suggests that students with MS/ID benefit from literacy practices and programs. Indeed, they can learn literacy skills when exposed to quality teaching practices. The same applies when these teaching practices integrate digital tools. Finally, students who use alternative communication systems other than speech also benefit from these practices. Quality teaching is explicit, targeted, flexible, tailored and intensive. 
The lack of research in education related to speaking (learning objective) and writing leaves the issues faced by educators, practitioners and researchers unaddressed. Furthermore, the lack of French-language research underscores the skills research and development challenges that must be met by quality research-driven literacy teaching practices. 
Main researcher
André C. Moreau, Université du Québec en Outaouais


Research report 

Call for proposals 

Deposit of the research report: January 2021