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 Publications

  • D’Ardenne, C., Barnes, D. G., Hightower, E. S., Lamason, P.R., Mason, M., Patterson, P. C., Stephens, N., Wilson, C. E., Smith, V. H., & Erickson, K. A. (2013). PLCs in Action: Innovative Teaching for Struggling Grade 3-5 Readers. The Reading Teacher, 67(2), 143-151.
  • Lanter, E., Watson, L. R., Erickson, K. A., & Freeman, D. (2012). Emergent literacy in children with autism: An exploration of developmental and contextual dynamic processes. Language, Speech, and Hearing Service in Schools, 43(3), 308 – 324.
  • Erickson, K. A., Hatch, P., & Clendon, S. A. (2010). Literacy, Assistive Technology, and Students with Significant Disabilities. Focus on Exceptional Children, 42(5), 1-16.
  • Erickson, K. A. & Sachse, S. (2010). Reading Acquisition, AAC and the Transferability of English Research to Languages with More Consistent or Transparent Orthographies. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 26, (3), 177–190.
  • Hatton, D., Erickson, K., & Lee, D. B. (2010). Phonological Awareness of Young Children with Visual Impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 104(12), 743-752.
  • 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.
  • Erickson, K. A., Hanser, G., Hatch, P., & Sanders, E. (2009). Research-Based Practices for Creating Access to the General Curriculum in Reading and Literacy for Students with Significant Intellectual Disabilities. Monograph prepared for the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Assessing Special Education Students (ASES) State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS)

Research and Scholarly Interests