Tips for Adapting Books for Kids with Disabilities

Literacy is easily one of my favorite subjects to teach. I realize that it can be hard to teach kids with severe disabilities to read, but there are SO many fun ways to give non-readers and emergent readers access to books and reading. I want to share some of the tips I have learned along the way while in college, while teaching at a special education school, and at a traditional school.

-Adapt books with picture symbols
Add picture symbols for all the words, some words, or picture symbols for students to match to words and/or pictures. I'm lucky enough to have the program Boardmaker in my classroom to create picture symbols. You can download a free 30 day trial of Boardmaker here or you can download a free 30 day trial of Symbly here
Attach a Ziplock or envelope to the back of the book to hold the picture symbols.
I use packing tape to attach picture symbols to books. It holds up well and is cheap. 
-Adapt books with textures
Use puffy paint, pipe cleaners, fabric, glue, and objects to texturize books.

-Add page turners
Page turners can be made with craft sticks, construction paper, or foam pieces. They are meant to help kids with physical disabilities or motor issues to turn the page.

-Adapt books with objects
Use objects, manipulatives, drawings, and puppets that correlate with the story.
There as an old lady who swallowed a fly with a lady (trash can) and all the animals she eats.

-Use a variety of books: 
Use bag/gel books, traditional books, big books, board books, pictures symbol books, electronic books, audio books, and object books.
  • A great electronic book resource is Tarheel reader. The site has a ton of electronic books and students can turn the pages with a Big Mac switch!
  • A fabulous resource for books adapted with picture symbols is the Sherlock Center on Disabilities. You can download hundreds of popular adapted books for free.  
  • Many libraries offer free audio book downloads.