Working with the City of Chicago’s ADA 25 Literacy Task Force
In July of 2015, Mayor Emanuel hosted a breakfast to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During the breakfast held at City Hall, the Mayor met with the ADA 25 Steering Committee representing the disability community, business, philanthropy and civic leaders to discuss critical disability initiatives going forward. The participants of the meeting engaged in discussions on the progress that has been made to date and what needs to be done over the next 25 years.
From that meeting, the city plans to strengthen its accessibility code and increase accessibility and opportunity in the areas of transportation, cultural institutions, education and employment. In order to address growing concern in the area of education, the Mayor decided to convene the ADA 25 Literacy Task Force, aimed at addressing the dropping literacy rates among students with disabilities.
Children’s Home + Aid was asked to join that task force. Our own Jesse Olson, a Disabilities and Mental Health Coordinator for Children’s Home + Aid, represented the agency. After a great deal of work and planning, Jesse joined the rest of the task force at a breakfast with the Mayor to present their findings and a final report.
While the report contains many good recommendations, we were thrilled to see that the top priority recommendation from the report was to, “strengthen the teaching of language and literacy to all children from birth to 3rd grade, especially those who struggle with reading.” We share the believe that this is the most effective way increase student literacy rates and our commitment to this priority is reflected in our high-quality early childhood programs and evidence based reading program, Raising a Reader.
Many children who struggle to read have simplylacked adequate early language and literacy support and instruction. Raising the quality of language and literacy instruction for all children would greatly reduce the number of students who need remediation later on and would likely reduce unnecessary special education referrals.
The report, titled Closing the Literacy Gap for Students with Disabilities can be downloaded below and represents the contributions of over 25 task force members.