" You have to invest ": Speech-language pathologists' perspectives on teaching literacy skills to students who use AAC
Rendall, Sara E.
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Literacy as it relates to students who use augmentative and alternative communication (SWUAAC) currently has limited research in the field of speech language pathology. Research regarding this population states SWUAAC should be taught the same literacy skills (i.e., alphabetics, reading fluency, comprehension) as typically developing students. Yet, due to the complex nature of SWUAAC, attitudes of professionals, and various AAC barriers, literacy is often not taught. When SWUAAC do receive literacy instruction it is from speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Given their expertise in language, SLPs can and should play a role in literacy instruction. Identifying the perspectives SLPs have on what should be included in literacy instruction for SWUAAC, as well as their role in literacy instruction with SWUAAC is an important step towards better serving this population. Semi-structured interviews with five SLPs were conducted. Participants were included if they currently work with SWUAAC, had a minimum three years of experience with SWUACC, and provided literacy instruction to minimum one SWUAAC recently. Interviews were transcribed, and then analyzed. Analysis was finalized when it was judged to be reliable between researcher, research assistant, and mentor. Three themes were discovered from the analysis of interviews: literacy instruction, barriers to literacy instruction, and supports to literacy instruction. Participants described SWUAAC who were successfully learning the same literacy skills as typically developing students when provided appropriate support and instruction. However, there are barriers to be overcome. Internal barriers were noted to be less important if educators were willing to make adaptations. However, external barriers were challenging to overcome if the educators did not have the appropriate knowledge. In contrast, participants talked of the biggest supports to literacy instruction: materials, knowledge, and attitudes. These supports required educators to have positive attitudes, as well as time and willingness to learn and adapt the curriculum and materials.
Communication devices for people with disabilities