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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mapping the early literacy ecology of children with disabilities in their homes and communities : perspectives from parents and children's librarians Prendergast, Teresa Jane


While prior research has investigated the home and preschool literacy experiences of young children with significant disabilities (Craig, 1996; DesJardin, 2010; Flewitt, Nind, & Payler, 2009; Hadadian & Weikle, 2003; Marvin & Mirenda, 1993; Ricci, 2011), little is known about how families of children with disabilities interpret mainstream early literacy discourses, most of which presume normative child development, nor how they participate in community-based early literacy learning. While the work of children’s librarians has evolved to include a significant role in the early literacy movement (American Library Association, 2011; C. Ward, 2007), librarians’ impact on the early literacy experiences of children with disabilities remains largely unexplored. This critical study begins with an analysis of early literacy discourse (McTavish, 2012; Nichols, Nixon, & Rowsell, 2009; Smythe & Toohey, 2009) found in government, community and commercial spaces (including virtual spaces, i.e., websites) in a large urban community in British Columbia, Canada. The study then explores the perspectives of parents of children with disabilities as they consider how their children participate in early literacy experiences in the context of their daily lives and routines. The study concludes with an exploration of children’s librarians’ perspectives on providing early literacy programs and resources for young children with disabilities and their families, while parents share their experiences in public libraries with their children with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to explore how early literacy is supported by communities in the lives of families whose children have disabilities. The conclusion was that children with disabilities are under-represented in early literacy discourse and practice, and that enduring ableist practices may result in the exclusion of children from early literacy opportunities in their communities.

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