Literacy Strategies for Students with Disabilities

Word Recognition: Sight Recognition

A teacher helping a middle school student with downs syndrome use a microscope.
Effective instruction is based on scientifically-based research. An overview of the research for the automatic recognition of words is included in this section.   
  • The majority of the words read by an adult are sight words; words their brain recognizes immediately and without conscious effort.  Reading instruction for students should result in this same automatic (sight) recognition of words.  

    Automaticity refers to the ability to perform complex skills with minimal attention and conscious effort. Automaticity is essential for higher-order thinking, such as skilled reading and writing, because important sub-skills must be performed accurately, quickly, and effortlessly. If reading sub-skills are performed automatically, then higher-order aspects of the task, such as comprehension or metacognitive functions, can be performed effectively at the same time (Samuels 1997).

    Automaticity, or how fast we accomplish a task (rate) is one component of reading fluency.  The other two components are accuracy and prosody.  Pikulski and Chard (2003) define reading fluency as “rapid, efficient, accurate word recognition skills that permit a reader to construct the meaning of text. Fluency is also manifested in accurate, rapid, expressive oral reading and is applied during, and makes possible, silent reading comprehension.”   There is a positive correlation between reading fluency and comprehension (Pinnell et al. 1995). 

    Automaticity of the subskills of reading starts with the beginning of reading instruction and develops over time.  Rapid naming (automaticity) of letters, sounds, phonetic elements (syllable types, affixes, etc.), words, phrases, sentences, and passages leads to reading fluency and comprehension (Vaughn 2004). 
A laptop with an image of books on the screen.  One book looks like it is coming out of the computer screen.
This section includes a library of instructional strategies that help students develop automaticity with word recognition. 
  • Strategies will be posted as they are completed.  
HIgh school students interviewing another student outside.
Videos show how instructional strategies look in the classroom.  These videos focus on teaching automatic word recognition. 
  • Videos will be added as they are completed.  
This section contains additional resources related to reading fluency and the recognition of words by sight. 
  • Resources will be added when they are developed.  
  • Project Managers, Inclusion in Texas Network

    Cara Wyly
    (210) 370-5413

    Bianca Cole
    (210) 370-5452