Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Disability and Equity in Education

First Advisor

Dr. Valerie Owen

Second Advisor

Dr. Terry Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Kotel


This qualitative, design-based research study focuses on teaching citizenship to individuals with intellectual disabilities. The participants were middle school students who communicate in a variety of ways, many of whom don’t use speech. In the State of Illinois, the general education population is required to pass the U.S. Constitution test. However, in spite of a mandate that students with disabilities should have access to the general education curriculum, students with significant intellectual disabilities are not required to learn about the constitution or their rights as citizens. The goal of the research was to meet the needs of all students through federal mandates of gaining access to the general education curriculum. For this study, curriculum was written that includes an adapted Constitution test. The study provides in depth descriptions of the Constitution Unit constructed and adapted for each participant, the pedagogical practices employed, and the assessment results for the students who participated. The research found that when curricula is adapted to their individual communication styles, connected to their lives, and enacted through multiple modalities, that students with intellectual disabilities can learn complex ideas about rights and incorporate their learning into their lives.