How Does the Use of Assistive Technology Influence Reading Comprehension Performance of Postsecondary Students With Learning Disabilities?

Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Disorders & Special Education


Special Education

Committee Director

Sharon L. Judge

Committee Member

Anastasia M. Raymer

Committee Member

Silvana M. Watson

Committee Member

Harold G. Griffin


Despite the large increase of students with learning disabilities (LD) entering postsecondary institutions and the legislative emphasis on providing students with disabilities equal access to education, we have yet to develop a more cohesive and comprehensive planning of accommodations for postsecondary students with LD in regard to assistive technology. The goal of this study was to provide empirical insight into the effects of using assistive technology to support reading comprehension in postsecondary students with LD. The study took place in a university in the southeastern region of the United States. Participants were six postsecondary students with LD who were participating in a program at the university that supported students with LD. A multiple baseline across participants design was employed to examine the effects of assistive technology, specifically the ClassMate Reader, on the reading comprehension performance of the students with LD. The data were analyzed to discern participant performance with and without the device. All participants, regardless of their reading ability, performed at a higher skill level with the support of the device. Further, the study was aimed at denoting characteristics of learners who benefited most from the use of the device. Two characteristics that were associated with strong improvement with the aid of the device were word attack skills and reading fluency. The participants with lower reading fluency grade equivalencies showed stronger gains in reading performance when using the device than did their peers with higher reading fluency grade equivalencies. Additional analysis took place to examine social fidelity and acceptability. Without knowing reading performance outcomes on the reading comprehension tests, five of the six participants felt the device aided their performance on the reading tests. This demonstrates their confidence in the effectiveness of using such a device. Likewise, five of the six participants answered that they would feel comfortable using the device around their peers, thereby demonstrating both social fidelity and acceptability of the device. The study results support the overall conclusion that assistive technology is a viable option for postsecondary students with LD when performing reading comprehension tasks.





This document is currently not available here.