Introduction to Contemporary Special Education: New Horizons, 3rd edition

Published by Pearson (February 13, 2024) © 2025

  • Deborah Deutsch Smith
  • Kimberly Skow
  • Naomi Chowdhuri Tyler

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For introduction to special education courses.

Engaging stories and research-based practices

Introduction to Contemporary Special Education presents the evidence-based practices, data and research that define the field, balanced with real stories of real people. Current, accurate and personal, this unique text sets readers on the best path forward to become effective and skilled educators who use validated practices, are engaged and passionate about their work, and value each student.

The 3rd Edition puts the spotlight on role models, diversity and equity while incorporating the latest information about evidence-based practices, inclusive settings, and exceptionalities.

Hallmark features of this title

  • Real-life vignettes and personal stories showcase the successful lives of adults with disabilities or provide insight into common challenges.
  • Definitions tables concisely lay out federal (IDEA) and professional organizations’ definitions of each exceptionality.
  • Accommodations tables give clear examples of how to adjust presentation, setting, response, and scheduling/timing.
  • On the Screen boxes show how people with exceptionalities are portrayed in film and media, offering a lens on how society views and has viewed individuals with disabilities.
  • Tips for Teachers boxes offer instructional considerations to help support and facilitate student success in IEPs.
  • Charts, graphs and timelines present key information in an easy-to-understand way.

New and updated features of this title

  • NEW/UPDATED: Vignettes begin each chapter with a profile of a person with a disability. Designed to educate and inspire, nearly every vignette is new to this edition, relating a real story of a real person (some famous and some not-so-famous) who we all can learn from and emulate.
  • NEW: Cultural Considerations boxes focus on an issue faced by a different historically underrepresented group or community, which is important for educators to understand as they create effective and responsive educational programs.
  • NEW: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students with disabilities is presented throughout the text.
  • NEW: A Closer Look at Research-Based Practices boxes offer clear implementation procedures for evidence-based practices such as self-regulation, braille literacy, and self-advocacy.
  • UPDATED/NEW: Prevalence and placement data is presented in easy-to-understand charts and graphs to allow for a clear understanding of changes across time and comparisons with other groups of learners.

The LMS-Compatible Assessment Bank streamlines assignments and grading

  • NEW: Learning objective quizzes, chapter tests and application exercises are included in an LMS-compatible packaged file. Application exercises in each chapter use a short-answer format and issue a model response written by experts.

Features of Pearson+ eTextbook for the 3rd Edition

  • NEW/UPDATED: Video Examples, including authentic classroom videos and interviews with experts, expand on principles or concepts in each chapter. The 3rd Edition has 111 Video Examples (VE), almost all new, including:
    • VE 2.2: A fifth-grade teacher demonstrates how he incorporates the principles and guidelines of UDL
    • VE 6.1: Octavia Spencer reveals her lifelong reading disability, discusses why she is interested in writing mystery novels for children, and credits her second-grade teacher for setting her on the right path to enjoy reading
    • VE 11.3: Learn about amazing possibilities available due to the evolution of prosthetic devices, like robotic hands, that allow freedom to do tasks independently
  • NEW/UPDATED: IRIS Center Modules, based on research at Vanderbilt University, use interactive elements to describe effective strategies for teaching students with disabilities. The 3rd Edition has 29 links to IRIS modules in 12 of its 15 chapters, including:
    • IRIS Module 3.1: Cultural and Linguistic Differences: What Teachers Should Know
    • IRIS Module 5.2: Study Skills Strategies (Part 1): Foundations for Effectively Teaching Study Skills
    • IRIS Module 8.1: Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview for Educators
  • The Interactive Glossary lets students quickly build their professional vocabulary as they read.
  1. Thinking About Exceptionalities
  2. Supporting All Learners
  3. Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
  4. Basic Guarantees, Individualized Programs, and Specialized Services
  5. Speech and Language Impairments
  6. Learning Disabilities
  7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  8. Autism Spectrum Disorder
  9. Intellectual Disability
  10. Emotional And Behavioral Disorders
  11. Physical and Health Disabilities
  12. Deafness and Hard of Hearing
  13. Visual Disabilities: Low Vision and Blindness
  14. Other Low-Incidence Disabilities
  15. Gifted and Talented

About our authors

Deborah Deutsch Smith has been the lead author on introduction to special education textbooks through eight editions of the first hardback iterations and continuing through three editions of the Web-based interactive version, New Horizons. She is a graduate of Pitzer College, University of Missouri, and the University of Washington; she received her credential preparation for general education at California State University, Northridge. She has been Professor of Special Education at the University of New Mexico, Vanderbilt University, and Claremont Graduate University. She has authored 20 textbooks and over 40 chapters and journal articles. She has directed many externally funded projects, including the Alliance Project, the Supply and Demand of Special Education Needs Assessment, and the IRIS Center, totaling over $40 million. She has won numerous awards and has made many international presentations.

Kimberly Garner Skow currently serves as the Deputy Director of the IRIS Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and housed at Vanderbilt University. In addition to coordinating and overseeing the production of IRIS Center resources and online tools about evidence-based instructional and behavioral practices, for over 20 years, Kim has served as one of IRIS’s lead instructional designers and resource developers, working with top researchers in the field to translate their content into practical information that educators can put to work in their own classrooms.

Naomi Chowdhuri Tyler is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Special Education and Director of the IRIS Center, housed at Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. Much of her work on this text is based on her 15-year history as an instructor for the Introduction to Exceptionality course, teaching both undergraduate and master’s students. Prior to working in higher education, Naomi spent 10 years as a special education teacher working with students from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds in both rural and urban schools in New Mexico and Hawaii. Her professional work focuses on improving the knowledge and skills of educators by closing the research-to-practice gap and preparing them to work effectively with all students, particularly struggling learners and students with disabilities.

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