Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Berkeley

Integrating Technology into Literacy Instruction for Students with Disabilities: Perspectives of Teachers and Students



Integrating Technology into Literacy Instruction for Students with Disabilities:

Perspectives of Teachers and Students


Catherine Lipson

Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education

University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University

Professor P. David Pearson, Chair

As students with disabilities increase their participation in the general education curriculum, special education service providers must ensure equitable access to technology based learning resources (Edyburn, 2009; Leeman, 2013; Ottenbreit-Leftwich et al., 2015). While there are many opportunities to make content accessible to students through technology, the proliferation of choices in the technology marketplace makes it more difficult to select the appropriate resources. Many service providers lack experience and expertise with integrating technology into literacy instruction for secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities (Holmes & Silvestri, 2012; Burgos, 2015). This study used a three-tiered cascade sampling method to identify teachers who have demonstrated expertise with technology integration and literacy instruction. The purposes of the study included identifying, analyzing, and interpreting best practices for teachers and other professionals who provide technology services to students with disabilities. Interviews with teachers and observations of their classroom practices revealed how they adapted instruction and included accommodations to improve accessibility, as well as their beliefs and expectations about using technology in the classroom.

Findings from teacher interviews and classroom observations showed substantial differences between the secondary and postsecondary environments. Secondary teachers reported a lack of technology resources in afterschool or tutoring programs outside the classroom to help their students with homework assignments. In contrast, community college instructors described opportunities for students to get support from academic coaches or tutors in assistive technology labs or learning centers. These results suggested that teachers’ beliefs and expectations about student learning characteristics and the need for individual assistance were important factors underlying the differences seen in technology use in their classrooms.

Among the postsecondary students who agreed to be interviewed, two students held positive views about alternative formats for reading, writing, or note-taking while one student was slightly positive to neutral about the benefits of recorded notes. Findings suggested the need for an education plan that stretches across multiple semesters or school years and specifies technology supports for secondary and postsecondary students, along with any training and support needed. Future research could trace the short-term and long-term effects of the shift away from print textbooks to electronic texts to determine how digital media influence student learning outcomes.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View