AbleNet Inc., Don Johnston Inc. and Dr. Karen Erickson Announce New Literacy Curriculum for Students with Significant Disabilities

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Based on compelling results from one of the largest literacy studies ever conducted among students with significant disabilities, AbleNet and Don Johnston announce 'MEville to WEville™ with Literacy Starters Program' - a multi-year literacy curriculum for beginning readers with significant disabilities in grades K-5.

Having the opportunity to work with Dr. Erickson, UNC, and Don Johnston to develop a program for these students has been an honor for AbleNet, and we are confident that the program will help students reach their individual level of achievement. Together, we have created a research-proven literacy curriculum that matures right along with the special education students for whom it was developed

AbleNet Inc. and Don Johnston Inc. proudly announce the availability of 'MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program,' a research-proven, multi-year literacy curriculum for beginning readers with moderate to severe/profound intellectual disabilities in grades K-5.

MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program blends the power of MEville to WEville™, AbleNet's scientifically-supported early literacy and communication curriculum with the strength of Don Johnston's research-based Start-to-Finish ® Literacy Starters books, to deliver new content with extended lessons proven to help special education teachers accelerate student outcomes by building "generalizable" literacy skills that can be applied to many aspects of a student's life - both inside and outside the classroom.

Like AbleNet's original MEville to WEville Curriculum, the MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program systematically integrates reading, writing, speaking, augmentative communicating and listening into lessons and activities designed to build a classroom community that promotes a sense of belonging by offering students new and different perspectives on themselves, their families and their school.

What makes the new MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program different is that it offers extended lessons and age-appropriate content for older students, including three sets of Start-to-Finish Literary Starters books and switch accessible computer books, written specifically for the MEville to MEville curriculum -- all in one convenient package.

"Don Johnston's content, AbleNet's curricula, and Dr. Karen Erickson's research expertise successfully merged, combining the best of each organization to create a program that will dramatically impact the lives of students with significant disabilities. Dr. Erickson's research clearly shows the value of the MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program - this literacy program is a worthy investment," said Ben Johnston, Director of Marketing, Don Johnston Incorporated.

The concept of blending AbleNet's MEville to WEville with Don Johnston's Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters began as a cooperative research initiative supported by a U.S. Department of Education Steppingstones of Technology Innovation grant.

Under the direction of Dr. Karen Erickson, from the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the unique collaboration between AbleNet and Don Johnston was aptly nicknamed "Project Converge."

Dr. Erickson's objective with "Project Converge" was to develop and research new literacy technologies and extended lessons that would leverage the proven power of MEville to WEville and Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters for the benefit of beginning readers with significant disabilities.

More than 100 students between the ages 8 to 21, all with moderate to severe/profound intellectual impairments, participated in the Project Converge study, including 22 students with autism and 15 students with multiple disabilities.

Dr. Erickson's research showed that integrating MEville to WEville with the extended lessons and Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters had a significant positive impact on the literacy outcomes of the students. And most importantly, research results showed that students were able to generalize their skills.

"Having the opportunity to work with Dr. Erickson, UNC, and Don Johnston to develop a program for these students has been an honor for AbleNet, and we are confident that the program will help students reach their individual level of achievement. Together, we have created a research-proven literacy curriculum that matures right along with the special education students for whom it was developed," said AbleNet CEO Jen Thalhuber.

For more detailed information about the MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program, or to view the results of Dr. Karen Erickson's study, visit http://www.ablenetinc.com/me2westarters/.

About AbleNet:
AbleNet Inc. is recognized for developing research-based special education curricula that meet state and federal mandates for educating students with mild, moderate or severe/profound physical and cognitive disabilities. The company also offers a complete line of assistive technology products, including communication aids for non-verbal students; access aids, such as switches and wheelchair mounting devices for students who require physical supports; and classroom tools that can be used by individual students or during group activities.

Located in Roseville, Minnesota, AbleNet Inc., is an ESOP company which sells products in over 50 countries worldwide. AbleNet's products and programs have been used in tens of thousands of classrooms nationally for more than 20 years.

For more information about AbleNet, visit http://www.ablenetinc.com/ or call 1-800-322-0956.

About Don Johnston:
Don Johnston Inc. empowers educators with supplemental instruction and intervention solutions to help struggling learners build core literacy skills with confidence. Don Johnston has partnered with literacy experts, psychologists, teachers, researchers and scientists since 1980 to develop over a dozen educational technology products. The company also publishes Start-to-Finish®, a collection of paperback, audio and computer books to engage struggling readers.

For more information about Don Johnston Incorporated visit http://www.donjohnston.com/ or call
1-800-999-4660.

About Dr. Karen Erickson:
Dr. Erickson is the current director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She holds a Ph.D. in Special Education and Literacy Studies from UNC and is a former teacher of children with significant disabilities. Knowledgeable in literacy, assistive and instructional technologies, augmentative communication, and the learning characteristics of children with significant disabilities, she is in great demand as a presenter, consultant, and program developer. Her assessment and intervention strategies are described in numerous journal articles and book chapters.

For more information about Dr. Karen Erickson and the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, visit http://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/clds/.

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Mary Walch