Instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities has undergone significant shifts in the past decade. It is realized now that these students need the opportunity to learn academic skills as well as functional life skills. With this realization has come a wide range of academic instructional materials for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. These materials are being developed to be consistent with the principles of universal design for learning, and are appropriate for use in the inclusive education classroom.

Among the critical aspects of instruction for the small proportion of students with significant cognitive disabilities is ensuring that all of these students have communicative competence. Students with communication challenges are less likely to be included in classrooms with general education students because of their lack of communicative competence. Thus, the creation of professional development to support communication instruction is critical.