We request Phase 1 SBIR funding to develop Set2Read-AK (Alphabet Knowledge), the first component of a larger effort to develop evidence-based, broadly distributable solutions to a widely acknowledged challenge - establishing reading readiness in children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and others who have atypical difficulty in learning such skills. The product will address a meaningful subset of readiness skills identified by state-of-the-science evaluation groups such as the National Early Literacy Panel as predictive of subsequent success in learning to read, specifically discrimination of letters that constitute the written alphabet in its many forms and relations of those letters with their corresponding spoken counterparts in English. Set2Read-AK will be the first product to feature comprehensive implementation of next-generation evidence- based techniques for directing attending to the distinguishing features of letters and letter names. As such, it will provide a model for other programs and products that may use this instructional technology for directing attending. Set2Read-AK will be implemented on the current generation of highly capable portable tablet devices (with their well-established product delivery systems via the app stores). Aspects of the program may be adapted also for implementation on handheld devices such as the iPhone. While the product is intended mainly to meet the needs of students with IDD, it may be useful also to help typically developing children learn more quickly than they might do so without it - thus potentially expanding the market for the product.
The main focus of this research is development of reading readiness skills in children with intellectual disabilities (IDs). We plan to develop a curriculum that will implement procedures based on relevant evidence from behavioral and educational science research. The curriculum will be implemented initially on handheld tablets (e.g., iPad, Android, etc.). When made broadly available, we believe that the product will greatly improve reading readiness learning outcomes for many children with IDs.