This session will review the findings of a research project that investigated teacher practices during literacy instruction for students with severe disabilities. The findings support a progressive view of literacy instruction that is responsive and purposeful, emphasizing students’ cognitive engagement in reading and writing. Specific recommendations will be made to improve literacy instructional practice. By the end of the session, participants will be able to: 1. Shift thinking about literacy instruction for students with severe disabilities to a more progressive and responsive stance. 2. Understand the cognitive processes engaged when teachers are responsive and purposeful in their teaching. 3. Understand the difference between students’ cognitive engagement when literacy instruction is controlling and focused on short-term outcomes, and students’ cognitive engagement when literacy instruction is responsive and focused on long-term outcomes. 4. Learn strategies to improve literacy instructional practice for students with significant cognitive disabilities and students with communication disabilities. 5. Incorporate strategies for teaching expressive communication with strategies for teaching reading and writing for students who use augmentative or alternative communication.