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Literacy Bill of Rights

By David Yoder, Karen Erickson, and David Koppenhaver, 1997

All persons, regardless of the extent or severity of their disabilities, have the basic right to use print. Beyond this general right, there are certain literacy rights that should be assured for all persons. These basic rights are:

1. The right to an opportunity to learn to read and write. Opportunity involves engagement in active participation in tasks performed with high success.

2. The right to have accessible, clear, meaningful, culturally and linguistically appropriate texts at all time. Texts, broadly defined, range from picture books to newspapers to novels, cereal boxes, and electronic documents.

3. The right to interact with others while reading, writing, or listening to a text. Interaction involves questions, comments, discussions, and other communications about or related to the text.

4. The right to life choices made available through reading and writing competencies. Life choices include, but are not limited to, employment and employment changes, independence, community participation, and self-advocacy.

5. The right to lifelong educational opportunities incorporating literacy instruction and use. Literacy educational opportunities, regardless of when they are provided, have potential to provide power that cannot be taken away.

6. The right to have teachers and other service providers who are knowledgeable about literacy instruction methods and principles. Methods include but are not limited to instruction, assessment, and the technologies required to make literacy accessible to individuals with disabilities. Principles include, but are not limited to, the beliefs that literacy is learned across places and time, and no person is too disabled to benefit from literacy learning opportunities.

7. The right to live and learn in environments that provide varied models of print use. Models are demonstrations of purposeful print use such as reading a recipe, paying bills, sharing a joke, or writing a letter.

8. The right to live and learn in environments that maintain the expectations and attitudes that all individuals are literacy learners.