Read-aloud accommodations, expository text, and adolescents with learning disabilities

Nancy Kay Meyer, Purdue University


Adolescents with learning disabilities in reading have difficulties with reading and understanding difficult grade-level curricular material. Support is needed to read, comprehend, and participate in classroom activities associated with subject matter knowledge. One frequently used method of support is using read-aloud accommodations to compensate for a student’s weaknesses in decoding so more effort can be focused on understanding the text. Most commonly, read-alouds are presented by another individual reading material out loud to students (i.e., live read-alouds) or by students using text-to-speech technology. Although live and text-to-speech read-alouds are used widely for assessments and in classroom practice, a lack of research supports the effectiveness of read-alouds on comprehension, especially for secondary students with learning disabilities in the classroom. A single-subject alternating treatment design was used to examine the effectiveness of live and text-to-speech read-aloud accommodations on comprehension and task completion time for four secondary students with learning disabilities in reading in a Midwest junior/senior high school. Compared to reading independently during baseline, live read-aloud accommodations increased comprehension although not to sufficient levels of proficiency. Text-to-speech read-alouds resulted in negative effects for comprehension. Results suggested both read-alouds have the potential to support decoding and fluency but not other factors affecting comprehension (e.g. vocabulary, background knowledge, and strategies for identifying main idea and formulating generalizations). Thus, read-alouds alone are not sufficient support for adolescents with learning disabilities. Other supports are needed beyond read-aloud accommodations. Yet, students preferred reading independently or with text-to-speech and valued independence, choice, and flexibility in using read-aloud accommodations. Practical implications and suggestions for future investigations are discussed.




Bouck, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Special education|Secondary education|Literacy|Reading instruction

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