Chapter 1: Executive Summary and Implications
Christa van Kraayenoord, John Elkins, Carolyn Palmer and Field W.
Literacy, Numeracy and Students with Disabilities: The Aims
For people with disabilities the acquisition and use of literacy and numeracy skills can be
a source of active participation in society, personal empowerment, and self-advocacy.
People with disabilities who are literate and numerate have more opportunities to
integrate with their communities, and have greater access to education, recreation and
leisure opportunities, employment, housing, and transport. As such literacy and
numeracy are a basic right.
This basic right is acknowledged in the phrase “literacy for all”, and in particular in the
National Literacy and Numeracy Plan for Schools (Department of Employment,
Education, Training and Youth Affairs, 1998). The plan clearly sets out the
Commonwealth, state and territory governments' commitment to literacy and numeracy
in the goal: “That every child leaving primary school should be numerate and be able to
read, write and spell at an appropriate level” (p.9).
In April 1999 in the Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty
First Century, Commonwealth, State and Territory Education Ministers restated their
agreed commitment to improving literacy and numeracy skills of all Australian children
in the goal: “that students should have attained the skills of numeracy and English
literacy; such that, every student should be numerate, able to read, write, spell and
communicate at an appropriate level” (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment,
Training and Youth Affairs, 1999, p.2).
In the project Literacy, Numeracy and Students with Disabilities the current situation in
Australia with regards to moving towards achieving this basic right of literacy and
numeracy for students with disabilities in primary schools was explored. In using the
Commonwealth definition of students with a disability, the project focused on how