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Adapting Lessons to Support Students with Severe Disabilities

About the Author

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ยป Laura Fowler Lewis, M.S., CCC/SLP: Laura has a Masters degree in Speech/Language Pathology and specializes in working with students with severe speech and physical disabilities. Laura currently works as an Assistive Technology Specialist in Wake County Public Schools serving special education students from preschool to high school age in approximately 31 schools. Laura can be contacted at or 919-858-1607.

Information about Mentors:

Karen Erickson, Ph.D., Director, Center for Literacy and Disability Studies
Yoder Distinguished Professor, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Department of Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine

Dr. Erickson directs several research and development efforts addressing the literacy learning and communication needs of persons with disabilities of all ages. Current research efforts involve infants and toddlers with visual impairments, school-aged students who struggle to read and write, school-aged students with complex communication needs, and children, adolescents, and young adults with multiple disabilities including deaf/blindness. Formerly a teacher of students with significant disabilities, including many who used augmentative and alternative communication, Karen is knowledgeable in literacy, assistive and instructional technologies, augmentative communication, and the learning characteristics of students with significant disabilities. She is the author or coauthor of a number of literacy instructional programs and products. Dr. Erickson was the 2004 recipient of the National Down Syndrome Congress Educator Award and the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Distinguished Literacy Lectureship Award.

Dr. Patricia B. Porter, Ph.D., is a certified Speech/Language Pathologist and holds a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a former classroom teacher and a school and hospital communication disorders specialist with a focus on persons with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. Dr. Porter served as Clinical Director of the Center for Disorders of Development and Learning of the UNC School of Medicine and participated in the establishment of the Augmentative Communication Team, the first such interdisciplinary assessment and intervention team in the state. She developed and directed the first university class in Augmentative and Alternative Communication in North Carolina. Dr. Porter served as Chief of the Developmental Disability Services Section for the NC Dept of Health and Human Services for fourteen years. During that time, North Carolina experienced the greatest growth in community programs and services for persons with developmental disabilities in the history of the state; far exceeding the national average. She has published many book chapters, journal articles and instructional materials. Dr. Porter served as the Associate Director for Administration and Development at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies for five years.