Karen Erickson, PhD

Karen EricksonDavid E. & Dolores (Dee) Yoder Distinguished Professor of Literacy and Disability Studies, Director, Center for Literacy & Disability Studies
Phone: (919)-966-8828
Fax: (919)-843-3250
Email: karen_erickson@med.unc.edu
Personal website: http://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/clds


  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1995
  • MS, State University of New York, Albany, 1988
  • BS, Cornell University, 1987

Personal Statement

I am a special education teacher who worked in a variety of classroom settings supporting students with a range of disabilities. My heart lies with children who have the most significant disabilities, particularly those who do not use speech as their primary means of communication. My work over the past decade has focused on understanding the best ways to assess and teach reading and writing to children with the most severe disabilities. As a member of an interdisciplinary team from my first day in the classroom, I take pride in the fact that educators and clinicians often mistake me for a speech language pathologist. Although I have no formal training in the field, I do believe that language is at the root of learning - particularly literacy learning.

Courses Taught

  • AHSC 350, Assistive Technology in the Allied Health Sciences

Research/Clinical Interests

  • Assessment of Reading and Writing
  • Literacy Instruction
  • Alternative assessment techniques for persons with significant disabilities
  • Emergent literacy development across disabilities including Rett syndrome, autism, and young children who have visual impairments and blindness
  • Beginning reading instruction for adolescents and adults with significant disabilities

Recent Publications

Erickson, K. A. & Sachse, S. (in press). Reading Acquisition, AAC and the Transferability of English Research to Languages with More Consistent or Transparent Orthographies. Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Erickson, K.A. and Clendon, S. A. (2009). Addressing Literacy Demands Of The Curriculum For Beginning Readers And Writers. In G. Soto and C. Zangari (Eds.), Practically Speaking: Language, Literacy, and Academic Development for Students With AAC Needs (p. 195-215). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Koppenhaver, D. A. and Erickson, K.A. (2008). Literacy in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication. In P. Mirenda and T. Iacono (eds.), AAC for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (p. 385-412). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Clendon, S. A. & Erickson, K. A. (2008). The vocabulary of beginning writers: Implications for children with complex communication needs. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 24(4), 281-293.

Erickson, K.A., Clendon, S.A., Cunningham, J.W., Spadorcia, S. A., Koppenhaver, D.A., Sturm, J., and Yoder, D. E. (2008) Automatic Word Recognition: The Validity of a Universally Accessible Assessment Task. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 21(1), 64-75.

Erickson, K. A., & Hatton, D. (2007). Expanding Understanding of Emergent Literacy: Empirical Support for a New Framework. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 101(5), 261-277.

Erickson, K. A., Koppenhaver, D. A., and Cunningham J. W. (2006). Balanced Reading Intervention in Augmentative Communication. In R. McCauley and M. Fey (Eds.), Treatment of Language Disorders in Children (p. 309-346). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Koppenhaver, D. A., and Erickson, K. A. (2003). Natural Emergent Literacy Supports for Preschoolers with Autism and Severe Communication Impairments. Topics in Language Disorders, 23(4), 283-292.