Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Reading and Language Arts


Kathleen A. Hinchman


Disability Studies, Intellectual Disabilities, Literacy, Parents' Perspectives, Special Education

Subject Categories

Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this qualitative interview study was to explore the perspectives of 22 parents of children with intellectual disabilities on the literacy learning opportunities the children were provided in school. It asked: 1) What are the perspectives of such parents on the literacy instruction offered to their children?, and 2) What are the perspectives of such parents on the opportunities available to them to participate in decision-making about this literacy instruction?

This study was grounded in disability studies and critical interpretivist frameworks, which provided a lens for understanding participants' views in the context of our society's historically unjust treatment of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Data sources included transcripts from in-depth semi-structured interviews, which I analyzed using Weft-QDA software and the constant comparison method to identify themes within and across the interviews.

A number of themes emerged from the analysis. Parents' perspectives on the literacy instruction received by their children varied on a continuum that ranged from pleased to exceedingly dissatisfied. In the parents' views, teacher investment in the children's learning and the settings in which the children were instructed were important. In addition, when interacting with their children's schools regarding this instruction, the participants reported engaging in various styles of communication, holding different viewpoints and experiencing a number of emotions, styles I described as Present Listening, Emergent Advocacy, and Steadfast Advocacy. These findings have implications for school professionals, teacher education programs, and researchers who are interested in developing mechanisms for drawing on parents' insights as they orchestrate literacy instruction for such children.


Open Access