Comprehension and Time Expended for a Doctoral Student with a Learning Disability When Reading With and Without an Accommodation


  • Adam Tanners
  • Dennis McDougall
  • Jim Skouge
  • Drue Narkon


The purpose of this alternating treatment, single-case research study was to compare reading comprehension and time expended reading, of a doctoral student with learning disabilities, under two reading conditions. In condition one, the student used a self-discovered accommodation, that is, listening, on an iPod, to an audiobook version (text-to-speech conversion) of textbook chapters, while concurrently reading those chapters. In condition two, the student read with no accommodation, that is, silently read the textbook chapters. In contrast to the student's pre-study perception that the accommodation improved everything about his reading, results indicated that the doctoral student actually comprehended slightly more when he read without rather than with his preferred accommodation. However, the doctoral student took twice as much time to complete the weekly readings when he did not use his preferred accommodation. Thus, for this student, the most distinctive benefit of the reading-while-listening accommodation was the time savings he accrued, needing to expend only half as much time as he otherwise expended navigating large volumes of assigned readings from his weekly seminar. Qualitative data further clarified reasons why the student preferred reading-whilelistening over silent reading. We describe implications of our findings for those who design, provide, or use accommodations and assistive technology to promote reading outcomes.