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Teaching early reading skills to adults with intellectual disabilities (READ-IT)

Teaching early reading skills to adults with intellectual disabilities (READ-IT) using a support worker/family carer mediated on-line reading programme – a feasibility study.


This research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Research for Patient Benefit (NIHR RfPB). It is being conducted in collaboration with Bangor University, Mencap and the Centre for Behaviour Solutions. It is organised by the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University.


Teaching early reading skills to adults with intellectual disabilities (READ-IT) is a program which aims to teach reading skills to adults with learning disabilities, delivered in their day to day settings and supported by a family carer or community support worker. We have developed this based on Headsprout, an on-line reading programme which has been shown to be effective with children with learning disabilities as well as a small group of adults with learning disabilities in a secure setting. READ-IT includes Headsprout, a support manual with additional strategies to help anyone supporting an adult with learning disabilities through the programme and bi-weekly telephone support.


We want to find out if READ-IT can be successfully delivered in home and community settings supported by family carers and support workers and improve the early reading skills of adults with learning disabilities. The best way to do this would be to conduct a large-scale Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). Before doing so we need to run a feasibility study, to make sure that the research design is effective.


We are hoping to recruit 48 adults with learning disabilities who live with family as well as in supported living settings. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the READ-IT programme or no changes to their usual activities. We will take some measurements at the beginning of the research and again after 6 months have passed. These will cover participants' reading ability, how they feel about reading, their wellbeing and quality of life in general. At the end we will also interview some of the adults with learning disabilities, their support workers and family carers. We will ask why they decided to take part and about their experiences having taken part in the study.


This research is important because the ability to read has an impact on peoples’ independence. Not being able to read, and therefore relying on others for assistance with written information, could potentially limit someone’s independence. Examples include being able to read letters, follow written instructions and reading information on food packaging. A reading program such as READ-IT has the potential to improve peoples’ quality of life by enabling them to do more things by themselves.

After a pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic we are now recruiting again for this research. If you are interested in being involved, or would like any more information, please contact research assistant Nicholas Manktelow via or 07392125602