Interventions that Help Disabled Students Improve their Reading Ability





Interventions that Help Disabled Students Improve their Reading Ability

A lot of scholars have indicated the importance of reading in academic surroundings. Most of these researchers suggest that reading is a critical avenue of effective learning and the attainment of academic success demands students to be able to read successfully (Scott & Saaiman 1). According to Jamshidifarsani (427), reading impairment can result in a life-long disability that may affect the overall quality of life in a lot of ways. Since reading is very important, diverse reading interventions have been established to help disabled learners master the skill by improving different basic skills that contribute to the complex reading process. These interventions may include phonological awareness, fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and phonics. This research paper aims to explore the interventions that have been proven to be effective in helping disabled students enhance their reading skills.

This research paper aims to answer the following research question

Which reading interventions have proven to be effective in helping students with reading disabilities?

Phonics Interventions

Phonics can be regarded as the different methods that are established to teach students about the orthographic code of a language and the link between sound and spelling patterns (Jamshidifarsani et al. 434). According to Driesen (6), phonics is an essential stepping stone in the process of reading since students can be able to learn the connection between letters and sounds, and the English language is developed using these letters. The authors also add that when instructors are teaching phonics, they are teaching learners how to apply the alphabetical code to read words. Therefore, when students encounter words that they are not aware of, they understand how to apply letter-sound correspondence in the context clues in order to work out the unknown word.

Studies have demonstrated that existing phonics instruction interventions have helped students improve their reading skills. Hill conducted a systematic review to evaluate the impact of phonics-based interventions that aimed to help students with intellectual disabilities improve their reading skills. The findings demonstrated that students with intellectual disabilities were responding to these interventions (Hill 205). These results are consistent with those of a study conducted by Dessemontet to examine the effect of a phonics-based intervention on French students with intellectual disabilities. The study indicated that treatment group students had more progress when it came to phonological awareness and comprehension of letter-sound than the control group.

Reading Comprehension Interventions

Reading comprehension is referred to as the development of the sense of communication that is either spoken or written through a reciprocal and all-inclusive thought exchange between the interpreter and the message in a definite setting of communication (Jamshidifarsani et al. 437). The ultimate aim of attaining different literacy capabilities such as fluency, vocabulary understanding, and others is to comprehend texts effectively and to develop texts in a comprehensible manner. Proficient reading comprehension can be achieved through mastering different skills and any deficiency in one or more of these skills may result in comprehension level impairment.

Most of the existing reading comprehension interventions are strategies that aim to teach learners the strategies that improve their understanding abilities including making inferences, generating and answering questions, and structure identification among others (Jamshidifarsani et al., 437). These reading comprehension interventions have been proven to be effective in helping students enhance their reading skills. Hock et al. (207) in a study to explore the impact of a comprehensive reading program on middle school children found that students with disabilities who received the program performed significantly better in reading standardized measurements when compared to other students. These findings are consistent with those of Reiser who examined the effectiveness of a computer-based intervention on the reading abilities of disabled students. The findings of the study showed that the computer-assisted instruction intervention enhanced the fluency of reading as well as the reading comprehension of students of disabled students (Reiser 152).

Phonological Awareness Interventions

Phonological awareness is the understanding of different ways that an individual can separate oral language into lesser constituents and manipulate it. This simply means having the capability to isolate, identify, merge, segment, erase, add or substitute the sounds of the lesser elements of a language for instance the syllables, phonemes, rime, and words (Jamshidifarsani et al. 433). This awareness has been regarded as the basis of reading effectively which suggests that it is a critical element for students with disabilities in reading (Novianti & Syihabuddin 158).

Research suggests that interventions that aim to improve Phonological awareness are more effective than classroom size strategies. Stressing on one or two phonological awareness capabilities on an intervention result in a higher impact as opposed to concentrating on three or more skills (Jamshidifarsani et al. 433). According to the analysis of these interventions, manipulating phonemes with written letters can lead to better outcomes especially when the intervention is directed toward older students. In a study to examine the effect of phonological instruction on dyslexic students in elementary school, it was noted that this kind of intervention helped students improve their phonological awareness abilities. The findings also indicated improvements in reading as well as spelling skills in the participants (Novianti & Syihabuddin 163).


Vocabulary is the comprehension of the meaning of words and understanding of how they can be applied to the world. The connection between vocabulary and understanding has existed for a long time with diverse studies conducted over the years indicating that the size of vocabulary early in life is a solid pointer to reading comprehension. Effective instruction strategies that teach vocabularies are direct instruction, instructing morphemic analysis, and the use of multimedia interventions (Jamshidifarsani et al. 437).

Evidence-based studies have documented the impact of vocabulary-based instruction interventions. For example, Solis et al. evaluated the effect of vocabulary and text-based reading programs on students in 4th grade. The results suggested that there were clinical and statistically significant gains in the students’ vocabulary and reading abilities. According to the study, positive results were attained after eight days into the program (Solís et al. 8). emerging technologies such as augmented reality have also been found to be effective in enhancing vocabulary comprehension in students with disabilities. McMahon et al. (1) for instance found that augmented vocabulary helped students with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability attain definition and labeling knowledge for new vocabularies in science.

Reading Fluency Interventions

Fluency is considered the ultimate stage that reading instructions aim to attain and it has a mutual link with reading comprehension. Fluency is realized when reading through the ease of identification of words, correct phrasing, intonation, and pacing. Fluency is one of the factors in reading that can support or even limit the reader’s comprehension (Jamshidifarsani et al. 439) several studies have shown that interventions that aim to improve fluency support the reading ability of students. For example, a repetitive reading intervention has been proven to support reading fluency as well as comprehension in students of disabled students (Elhoweris 37). In a systematic review of studies revolving around fluency interventions for disabled students, it was noted that repeated reading still remains the most impactful intervention for enhancing reading fluency in learners with learning disabilities (Stevens, Walker & Vaughn 576).

Multi-component Reading Interventions

Since reading is an ability that is multifaceted, interventions that address all the categories of reading have been proposed (Jamshidifarsani et al. 441). some studies have also evaluated the impact of these interventions. A multi-component literacy program established to improve reading comprehension has been found to improve the ability of students with moderate intellectual disability to respond to multiple-choice and open-ended questions without any help (Roberts et al. 382). Another multi-component intervention focused on storytelling has also been found to enhance vocabulary recognition significantly in students with learning disabilities (Knaak et al. 79).


Overall, the study evaluated the different interventions aiming to help disabled students improve their reading ability. Reading is a multifaceted process that involves crucial categories such as phonics, fluency, comprehension, and others. Different interventions targeting these components have been developed to enhance the ability of disabled students to learn. These interventions focusing on phonics, phonological awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency have been found to be effective in helping disabled students such as those with autism and intellectual disability. Additionally, multi-component interventions that address all these components also exist. They have also proven to be effective in enhancing disabled students’ ability of vocabulary recognition and answering questions. Based on the research, it is evident that reading interventions for disabled students have conventionally focused on single skill instructions/ considering that multi-component interventions seem to improve more than one component of reading, more interventions aiming to help disabled students need to be established. Besides, these interventions are cos-effective when compared to single skill interventions.

Works Cited

Driesen, Erin. “Impact of Phonics Instruction for Readers at Risk.” (2020).

Elhoweris, Hala. “The Impact of Repeated Reading Intervention on Improving Reading Fluency and Comprehension of Emirati Students with Learning Disabilities.” International Journal of Psycho-Educational Sciences 6.2 (2017): 36-48.

Hill, David R. “Phonics Based Reading Interventions for Students with Intellectual Disability: A Systematic Literature Review.” Journal of Education and Training Studies 4.5 (2016): 205-214.

Jamshidifarsani, Hossein, et al. “Technology-based reading intervention programs for elementary grades: An analytical review.” Computers & Education 128 (2019): 427-451.

Knaak, Turid, Matthias Grünke, and Anne Barwasser. “Enhancing Vocabulary Recognition in English Foreign Language Learners with and without Learning Disabilities: Effects of a Multi Component Storytelling Intervention Approach.” Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal 19.1 (2021): 69-85.

McMahon, Don D., et al. “Augmented reality for teaching science vocabulary to postsecondary education students with intellectual disabilities and autism.” Journal of Research on Technology in Education 48.1 (2016): 38-56.

Novianti, Ranti, and Syihabuddin Syihabuddin. “The effect of phonological instruction for struggling readers in elementary.” Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics 11.1: 157-166.

Reiser, David A. An impact analysis of computer assisted instruction on the reading skills of students with disabilities. Diss. Ashland University, 2018.

Roberts, C. A., Tandy, J., Kim, S. Y., & Meyer, N. (2020). A Multi-Component Literacy Intervention with Science Expository Text for Students with Moderate Intellectual Disability. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 55(4), 382-397.

Scott, Linda, and Elaine Saaiman. “Promoting reading skills or wasting time? Students’ perceived benefits of reading in an intermediary programme at the Vaal University of Technology.” Reading & Writing-Journal of the Reading Association of South Africa 7.1 (2016): 1-11.

Solís, Michael, et al. “Text-based vocabulary intervention training study: Supporting fourth graders with low reading comprehension and learning disabilities.” Learning disabilities (Weston, Mass.) 15.1 (2017): 103.

Stevens, Elizabeth A., Melodee A. Walker, and Sharon Vaughn. “The effects of reading fluency interventions on the reading fluency and reading comprehension performance of elementary students with learning disabilities: A synthesis of the research from 2001 to 2014.” Journal of learning disabilities 50.5 (2017): 576-590.