Karen Erickson

Director, Center for Literacy and Disability Studies
Yoder Distinguished Professor, Department of Allied Health Sciences
Professor, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
UNC Chapel Hill

Karen Erickson, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, a Professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, and the Yoder Distinguished Professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research addresses literacy assessment and instruction for struggling readers of all ages including those with significant disabilities. Karen is co-developer of the Tar Heel Reader online library of accessible books for beginning readers, as well as several other assistive and learning technologies. She is a former teacher of children with significant disabilities.


  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Special Education and Literacy
  • M.S., University at Albany, State University of New York, Special Education
  • B.S., Cornell University, Human Development and Family Studies

Selected Awards and Honors

  • 2013, University at Albany, State University of New York, Excellence in Education Award
  • 2011, Alumni Achievement Award, UNC Chapel Hill, School of Education
  • 2010, Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award
  • 2009, David E. and Dolores J. (“Dee”) Yoder Distinguished Professor of Literacy and Disability Studies
  • 2009, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Faculty Engaged Scholar

Selected Recent Publications

  • Erickson, K. A., & Koppenhaver, D. A. (2020). Literacy for All: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities to Read and Write. Baltimore, MD: Brookes
  • Clark, N., D’Ardenne, C., Koppenhaver, D., Noblit, G., Erickson, K. (in press). The intersections of race and severe disability. In Annama, S., Ferri, B., Connor, D. (Eds.) DisCrit Expanded: Inquiries, Reverberations & Ruptures. Teachers College Press
  • D’Ardenne, C., Erickson, K., Noblit, G., Koppenhaver, D., & Clark, N. (in press). The discursive construction of severe dis/ability in school. In J. N. Lester (Ed.), Discursive Psychology & Disability. Palgrave Macmillan
  • Erickson, K., Geist, L., Hatch, P., & Quick, N. (in press). The challenge of symbolic communication for school-aged students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. In B. Ogletree (Ed.), Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Challenges and Solutions. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing
  • Cross, R., Erickson, K., Geist, L., & Hatch, P. (in press). Vocabulary selection. In L. Lloyd & D. Fuller (Eds). Principles and Practices in Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Slack Publishing
  • Benson-Goldberg, S. & Erickson, K. (2020). Graphic symbols: Improving or impeding comprehension of the Communication Bill of Rights? Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits, 14. https://www.atia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ATOB-V14-A1-Benson-GoldbergErickson.pdf
  • Geist, L., Erickson, K., Greer, C., & Hatch, P. (2020). Enhancing classroom-based communication instruction for students with significant disabilities and limited language. Exceptionality Education International, 30, 42-54. http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/eei/vol30/iss1/1
  • Quick, N., Roush, J., Erickson, K., & Mundy, M. (2020). A hearing screening pilot study with students with significant cognitive disabilities. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_LSHSS-19-00017
  • Dorney, K. & Erickson, K. (2019). Transactions within a classroom-based AAC intervention targeting preschool students with autism spectrum disorders: A mixed-methods investigation. Exceptionality Education International. 29, 42-58. https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/eei/vol29/iss2/3
  • Quick, N., & Erickson, K. (2019). The most frequently used words: Comparing child-directed speech and young children’s speech to inform vocabulary selection for aided input. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 35(2), 120-131. https://doi.org/10.1080/07434618.2019.1576225
  • Quick, N., Harrison, M., & Erickson, K. (2019). A multilinguistic analysis of spelling among children with cochlear implants. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 113. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/eny029
  • Hatch, P., & Erickson, K. (2018). Teacher experience, text access, and adolescents with significant disabilities. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits, 12, 56-72. https://www.atia.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ATOB-V12_Iss1_Article4.pdf
  • Sanders, E., & Erickson, K. (2018). Wh- question answering in children with intellectual disability. Journal of Communication Disorders, 76, 79-90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcomdis.2018.09.003
  • Greer, C., & Erickson, K. A. (2018). A preliminary exploration of uppercase letter-name knowledge among students with significant cognitive disabilities. Reading and Writing, 31(4), 173-183. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-017-9780-y
  • Zoski, J., & Erickson, K. A. (2016). Morpheme-based instruction in kindergarten: A shared reading approach. The Reading Teacher, 70(4), 491-496. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1542
  • Zoski, J. & Erickson, K. A. (2016). Multi-component linguistic awareness intervention for at-risk kindergarteners. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 38 (3), 161-171. https://doi.org/10.1177/1525740116660817
  • Erickson, K. A. & Quick, N. (2016). The profiles of students with significant cognitive disabilities and known hearing loss. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 1-4. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enw052
  • Erickson, K. A. & Geist, L. (2016). The profiles of students with significant cognitive disabilities and complex communication needs. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 32(3), 187-197. https://doi.org/10.1080/07434618.206.1213312
Karen Erickson