LITERACY: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS – CONSUMERS’ PERSPECTIVE
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good literacy skills has always been a challenge for parents, teachers and
speech-language pathologists when teaching children and adults with severe
communication disorders. The statistics are startling.
data from Kirsch,
these statistics, participants will hear the presenters struggle to read and
write as children and their passionate views of why every individual,
regardless of disabilities, must acquire literacy skills to varying degrees. Solutions
for these basic learning necessities will be discussed, so that every aspect of
life can be fully enjoyed.
literacy is such an issue for those who have never spoken
Participants will gain firsthand knowledge of why reading and writing is so difficult for individuals who have never spoken. For instance, the inability to sound phonemes verbally establishes a missing connection in the brain to do so. Similarly, those who have never spoken develop a language delay and often miss words while constructing a sentence on an AAC device.
Literacy Gateway says, “A majority of all poor readers have an early history of
spoken-language deficits. A recent study reported that 73% of 2nd grade poor readers
had phonemic awareness or spoken language problems in kindergarten.”’ “Without
direct instructional support, phonemic awareness eludes roughly 25% of middle
class first graders, and substantially more of those who come from less literacy-rich
“Phonemic awareness tasks require “sub-vocal analysis” or the ability to silently sound out words.” (Yopp, 1988)
nowadays there are tools to foster literacy skills and the issues involved for
individuals who have never spoken verbally.
skills can be improved by the Literacy Pages and the DynaBooks
In preprogrammed pages on a Series Four Product, the presenters will show the progression that can be implemented in the Literacy Pages. There are 12 levels of learning. Included are cause and effect, phonemes, construction of words and the formation of novel statements.
is another preprogrammed page set, however, the AAC user has the flexibility to
direct how a story flows. Additionally, the Message Window is shaped like writing
paper to give the concept of text being written from left to riqht and progressing
downward. The individual can also follow words by turning “Highlight as You
speak” on in the Message window Features Menu.
Message window Features to provide literacy skills
Besides the Highlight as You speak option, there are other tools in the Message window Features to promote literacy skills. Two such items are “speak when Inserting words” and “speak on Punctuation”. Both of these features give auditory feedback for individuals with language delays.
will learn of one presenter using auditory feedback to overcome this
developmental disability and how he now teaches others to do the same.
advantages and disadvantages of using symbols
A discussion of advantages and disadvantages in using symbols to promote literacy skills will occur from the presenters’ perspective as well as clinical studies.
- AAC devices and systems say, “The selection of a symbol system is important
and individualistic. It cannot be decided by age, cognitive ability or developmental
level of the child, althou9h these do influence the decision. A predominant
physical issue that impacts the choice of a symbol system is whether the child
has a sensory impairment, which may affect his or her ability to perceive and
process certain types of symbols. Children with visual impairments may require
tactile or auditory symbols alone or in conjunction with enhanced visual
in the early development of children, symbols are good identifying words. There
is a danger, however, in AAC users becoming dependant upon symbols. Of course,
cognitive issues come into consideration using Alternate output and computer
access to promote literacy skills
Learning should be fun. Usinq a communication device to send text to a computer opens a completely new world for AAC users.
strategies will include sending text by Alternate Output to a computer so that
AAC users can share the things on their hearts. The value of this process
extends beyond the obvious technology; it allows AAC users to be on the giving
end and increases their self-worth. Device users can tell a joke to a friend, a
story to share in class, or relevant information that would be beneficial to
share with an employer. Motivation to improve literacy skills sharpens.
Thus, although developing good literacy skills is a challenge for people with severe communication disorders, becoming literate is obtainable so the world around them can be fully enjoyed.
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Literacy Gateway, www.asha.org/about/publications/literacy
Marilyn Jager (1990). Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.
H.K. (1988). The validity and reliability of phonemic awareness tests. Reading
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