"To begin to address concerns regarding the ability of literacy practitioners to work with this population."
Working to meet the literacy needs of adults with developmental disabilities is complicated by the need to concurrently address emotional, behavioral, and physical issues whenever these are present. Although there are a number of literacy professionals who are comfortable with, and have the training to deal with adults with developmental disabilities, there are still a vast number who do not.
The potential exists for a mutually beneficial exchange of information and training between those who have the training and expertise in supporting people with developmental disabilities, and those whose expertise is delivering literacy training. For example, a workshop on effectively dealing with behavioral issues would be of benefit to literacy workers, as much as a workshop on teaching reading would be of benefit to developmental support workers. As a result, workshop participants offered to share information regarding upcoming training opportunities that would be of mutual interest.
In addition, one new initiative that will begin in the fall of 2000 is the inclusion of a literacy component within the framework of the Developmental Services Worker program at St. Clair College. Students graduating from this program directly support learners with developmental disabilities. Having this information when they begin their careers should result in increased awareness of the importance of literacy, in promoting both individual empowerment and community inclusion.
Furthermore, the feasibility of offering a general "orientation to literacy training" course through the Continuing Education department at St. Clair College is being investigated. Discussions have already been initiated, and will be further explored once the DSW component is implemented and evaluated.
In conclusion, it was suggested that the concern that literacy volunteers are not prepared to work with adults who have a developmental disability could be easily addressed by simply providing literacy tutor training to volunteers within the support agency. The same volunteer could then be used by both sectors. This "volunteer sharing" idea was met with a positive response.
"To develop a model, the method and results of which will be made available to all networks in the province."
This project was designed from its onset to be a model for other regions to use when addressing the issues and concerns of practitioners working with the literacy needs of persons with developmental disabilities. Although the issues and solutions may differ from region to region, the process itself is easily replicated and transferable.
Part two of this report entitled "A Model to Identify Issues, Develop Strategies, and Promote Participation" details the steps involved in recreating the process. In summary, the steps include:
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