Providing access to employee handbooks: Using EBPs to build text comprehension

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Research presented at the 2018 TASH national Conference in Portland, OR.

Employment outcomes for individuals with intellectual disability (ID) continue to be among the lowest reported (Migliore, Butterworth, & Hart, 2009; Siperstein, Parker, & Drascher, 2013). Literacy skills are critical for obtaining employment and for supporting continued success in the workplace (Concei, 2016), but individuals with ID typically have very low literacy levels (Katims, 2000). Limited research has been conducted on literacy skill development for young adults with ID, particularly on work-related texts such as employee handbooks. Research supports the use of shared stories on adapted age-appropriate texts for students with significant cognitive disabilities, including those with ID (Hudson & Test, 2011; Shurr & Taber-Doughty, 2012; Spooner, Kemp-Inman, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Wood, & Davis, 2015), but these studies primarily focused on elementary or middle school students. Very little research on shared stories has been conducted with older students with ID (ages 18 and up). These students may have access to functional academic instruction, such as accessing real-world texts, within high school, vocational programs, and postsecondary education programs found in colleges and universities. Participation in university-based postsecondary education programs for young adults with ID have demonstrated improved competitive employment outcomes for this population, with 82% of the students working jobs that paid at or above minimum wage (Grigal & Hart, 2013). Functional academic instruction, such as literacy skill development, within these programs has successfully included the incorporation of technology to access or supplement the intervention (Evmenova, Behrmann, Mastropieri, Baker, & Graff, 2011; McMahon, Cihak, Wright, & Bell, 2016). The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a multimedia shared story using speech-to-text technology on the text comprehension skills of workplace texts of college students with ID. This study used a multiple probe across participants design to measure the effectiveness of the shared story intervention across three sections of the employee handbook. This research seeks to extend the literature by investigating the effects of this literacy treatment package on the participants’ comprehension of the text and their ability to transfer that knowledge into a practical demonstration of related work tasks. Results will be discussed as well as limitations and future research implications.


2018 TASH national Conference


Portland, OR