PARA Accessible Reading Assessment Reports: Disabilities and Reading: Understanding the Effects of Disabilities and Their Relationship to Reading Instruction and Assessment


A report providing common ground on the issues surrounding reading and students with various disabilities to facilitate discussion of accessible reading assessment. The information in this report was obtained through a broad review of literature and Web sites of national agencies and organizations, along with input and feedback from professionals in the disability areas. It is not intended to be a comprehensive research review of disabilities or reading-related issues, but nevertheless should prove useful for understanding the effects of disabilities and their relationship to reading. Seven disabilities are discussed in the order of their prevalence: specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities, autism, deaf or hard of hearing, and visual impairments. Although these disabilities do not comprise all of the possible disability categories or even the most common disabilities, they do represent those often considered most challenging for reading assessment. This report provides:

  1. An overview of the characteristics of students with each disability
  2. A description of common approaches to reading instruction for students with each disability
  3. Assessment approaches and issues that surround the assessment of reading for students with each disability.


March 2009 
Partnership for Accessible Reading Assessment (PARA)
National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)


  • Specific life stage
    • Children
    • Adolescents and young adults
  • Educational accountability and assessment
    • English Learners with Disabilities
    • Accessibility & Accommodations
    • Instruction
    • Students with Disabilities