Orlovska, M. & Rascevska, M.
Department of Psychology, University of Latvia
Latvian is specific language from narrow Baltic language group with rather high grapheme-phoneme correspondence. We know a lot about characteristics of reading disability (RD) in opaque English and other transparent orthographies, but there is no evidence about particularity of characteristics of RD in Latvian language. This study was conducted to find out, what characteristics of RD experts perceive as typical in the context of Latvian orthography. The total sample consisted of 56 experts (aged 25 to 60; 100% women; mean work experience with RD=15.76 years; SD=7.60) working in the areas of primary education, psychology, and speech therapy. In the first stage of the study we interviewed two experts and defined the characteristics of RD. Adding extra characteristics mentioned in the theory, we developed Experts` Perceived Characteristics of Reading Disability (EPCRD) questionnaire with 75 characteristics yielding 11 categories (e.g., decoding, reading fluency, visual-spatial perception). In the second stage EPCRD was offered to five prominent experts in the field. Experts assessed characteristics in 4-point Likert-type scale (where 1- is not typical at all, but 4- is quite typical). Characteristics evaluated with 3.60 and higher (N=36) were considered as typical and EPCRD was restructured in seven categories. In the third stage 36-characteristic EPRDC was given to 49 experts. The results indicated that all 36 characteristics were evaluated as considerable (M>2.63). The most typical were: a lot of spelling mistakes writing self composed sentences (M=3.88, SD=.33) and reading more slowly than most of the peers (M=3.79, SD=.46), while the least typical was: good reading comprehension despite of insufficient fluency and accuracy (M=2.63, SD=.70). The operationalization of the characteristics is also discussed. This expert study formed a basis for the empirical study, where experts` perceived typical characteristics will be examined in the sample of Latvian primary school children with RD.