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Donna Wakefield


Associate Professor, Teacher Preparation, Special Education Program

Programs/Classes Taught:

Undergraduate Special Education Program Courses:

  • SPE 305 Practicum I: Inclusive Education and the Role of the Special Education Teacher
  • SPE 330 Assistive and Instructional Technology 
  • SPE 416 Instructional Planning and Instruction for Inclusive Education II
  • SPE 405 Advanced Practicum II in Inclusive Education

Graduate Special Education Program Courses:

  • SPE 500 Introduction to Special Education and Methods of Teaching Students with Disabilities (online and face-to-face)
  • SPE 501 Educational and Diagnostic Assessment of Exceptional Children and Adolescents
  • SPE 502 Language Development and Challenges in Children and Adolescents
  • SPE 506 Frameworks, Perspectives and Collaboration in Special Education 
  • SPE 507 Methods of Social/Emotional Support 
  • SPE 508 Literacy Across the Curriculum for Students with Disabilities (online and face-to-face)
  • SPE 509 Literacy Instruction for Diverse Learners
  • SPE 510 Early Childhood Special Education Language Development and Challenges 
  • SPE 532 Early Childhood Special Education Curriculum, Instruction and Methods 
  • SPE 533 Early Childhood Special Education Diagnostic Assessment 
  • SPE 534 Early Childhood Special Education--Collaboration, Family and Community 
  • SPE 545 Assistive Technology
  • SPE 527 Differentiated and Individualized Curriculum and Instruction
  • SPE 573 Differentiated and Inclusive Curriculum & Instruction I 
  • SPE 576 Practicum 2: Curricular Content Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom
  • DEE 690 Special Topics in Disability and Equity Studies

Areas of Expertise:

  • Special Education
  • Language and Literacy for All Learners
  • Role of Disability in Children’s and Young Adult Literature 
  • iOS devices for Language and Learning and Students with Disabilities
  • Assistive Technology


Dr. Wakefield joined the Special Education faculty in fall, 2000. Dr. Wakefield teaches graduate courses in language, literacy, assistive technology and differentiation. Her work focuses on children with exceptional learning needs. Her research interests include the portrayal of disabilities in children’s and young adult literature from both a literature viewpoint and a disability viewpoint and the use of technologies for individuals with exceptional learning needs. She has presented on making literacy and literature accessible to all by adapting literacy tools for individuals with special needs as well as the use of technologies for individuals with exceptional learning needs. Dr. Wakefield has a Bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders and a Master's Degree in Speech Language Pathology and holds an Illinois Professional Educators License endorsed in Learning Behavior Specialist I and Speech-Language Pathologist (Teaching and Non-Teaching). She has experience working as a speech-language pathologist, special education teacher, assistive technology facilitator, inclusion facilitator and special education administrator in Illinois, mainly the near west suburbs. Dr. Wakefield enjoys sharing practical resources and strategies that help her students be successful in the classroom. 


Ph.D., 2005: Special Education, University of Illinois at Chicago
M.A., 1981: Speech Pathology, Ball State University
B.S., 1977: Communication Disorders, Northern Illinois University 
2000: Assistive Technology Applications Certificate, California State University

Research and Interests:

Dr. Wakefield's research has been mostly revolved around assistive and instructional technology, particularly iPads, and the portrayal of disability in children’s and young adult literature.


Other Interests

Baseball, Reading, Folk Music, Travel


Selected publications:

Wakefield, D. & Koss, M., (2008). Core Collection: YA Characters with Special Needs. Booklist, Feb, 2008.


Selected presentations:

Wakefield, D. & Koss, M, (2016). Using Book Apps to Promote Classroom Literacy,

Illinois Reading Conference, Peoria, IL 


Wakefield, D. (2015). The Wonder of Wonder: Using YA Literature to Teach Adults about Disability, National Council of Teachers Annual Convention, Bloomington, MN 


Wakefield, D. (2015), Book Apps: Evaluation for Classroom Use – Teaching and Learning with the iPad Conference, Raleigh, NC 


Wakefield, D. & Bowe, R. (2015). Boost Your Productivity: Getting the Most Out of Your iPad, McCormick Foundation Leadership Connections Conference, Invited Presenter, Wheeling, IL  


Wakefield, D.  & Faermark, D. (2014). Google drive: A tool for collaboration, co-teaching and curricular content, Assistive Technology Industry Association, Orlando, FL  


Wakefield, D. (2013). Characters with disabilities in children’s and young adult literature, National Council of Teachers Annual Convention, Boston, MD  


Wakefield, D. (2013), iPad: A Tool for Reading Skill Development, Assistive Technology Industry Association, Orlando, FL  


Wakefield, D. (2012). iPads: How to Integrate Them into Student Learning Tomorrow, National Council of Teachers Annual Convention, Las Vegas, NV  


Wakefield, D. (2012). Writing with the iPad, Closing the Gap, Bloomington, MN 


Wakefield, D. (2012). Evaluating Book Apps for the iPad, National Louis University Autism Center for Advocacy & Practice, Wheeling IL 


Wakefield, D. (2012). Children's Book Apps: What to Look for in Educational Settings, Assistive Technology Industry Association, Orlando, FL

Contact Information:

p/f: 312.261.3173






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