The Individuals with Disabilities Act was implemented in 1975 to assure that all children aged 0-21 years old have access and the right to an equal education. However, young children with disabilities continue to need additional support to meet the reading readiness standards as outlined in The No Child Left Behind legislation (2004). Although all children benefit from readiness skills, it is essential for children with special needs. With the technology boom of the past decade, assistive technology (AT) has been used increasingly to enhance emerging literacy skills. In order to identify current trends in the use of AT as a means to enhance emergent literacy skills in young children with disabilities, a systematic review of the literature was undertaken. The findings from this review support the scarcity of empirical research demonstrating the benefit of AT to promote emergent literacy with young children with disabilities. We also found a need for evidence supporting education approaches for the proper use of AT in early childhood literacy as well as little family knowledge regarding the implementation and instructional use of AT.
Issues related to a child's linguistic and cultural background represent a continuing and growing challenge for early literacy educators and curriculum developers. Latinos, for example, are now the largest minority group in the countrya group that is growing at a faster rate than the population as a whole. 19 Even for many Englishspeaking children, the school language (or dialect) and culture may differ greatly from that of their homes. Teachers of young children need to keep in mind that a child's prekindergarten classroom may be the first setting of sustained contact with a new culture and will help set the stage for early success or failure with formal schooling. 20 Effective educators seek to learn as much as they can about the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the practical, programs specifically focus on the development of both English and the child's home language. In general, the curriculum is implemented in ways that foster respect for what children bring to the learning situation and provide continuity between the child's experiences at home and those within the early childhood program.
Early language and literacy (reading and writing) development begins in the first 3 years of life and is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories. The interactions that young children have with such literacy materials as books, paper, and crayons, and with the adults in their lives are the building blocks for language, reading, and writing development. This relatively new understanding of early literacy development complements the current research supporting the critical role of early experiences in shaping brain development.