Office of the President

Literacy Access among Students with Disabilities during a Global Pandemic

Dr. Alexandra Shelton (she/her)

Twitter: @AlexLizShelton

Pre-recorded presentation

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The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the inequities many students with disabilities face in schools across the country. For example, 68% of principal and teacher respondents on a nationally representative survey reported that achievement among students with disabilities (SWDs) in their schools was somewhat lower or much lower in fall 2020 than in fall 2019 (Kaufman et al., 2020). In this new normal, it is especially important that SWDs have access to high-quality remote learning opportunities, particularly in the area of literacy. Therefore, the purpose of this proposed pre-recorded presentation is to discuss innovative ways to support SWDs’ access to literacy in virtual inclusive K-12 environments. This presentation will provide guidance on leveraging technology to promote inclusion and access among K-12 SWDs. The presentation will begin with a discussion of the unique challenges SWDs face within inaccessible, restrictive virtual instructional settings. The presentation will also include resources and strategies that educators and family members can use to foster literacy access among SWDs during at-home learning. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of how these resources and strategies can be extended to increase inclusion and access among SWDs in a post-pandemic world.


Alexandra Shelton is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher and Faculty Specialist in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education at the University of Maryland. Her work focuses on improving literacy outcomes for secondary students with mild disabilities, including mild intellectual disability and learning disabilities, via intensive intervention and teacher professional development and coaching. Dr. Shelton is currently the Project Director of three federally funded grants that aim to provide professional development and systematic coaching to middle school teachers to promote their use of evidence-based literacy practices. As a former high school special education teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools, she served students with disabilities in the general and special education settings in English language arts, reading, math, and science.

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Last update: Jun 08, 2021

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