2006 Conference General Sessions

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Presenter #1

Scott Marfilius
Assistive Technology Consultant
855 W. County Line Rd.

Country: USA
Day Phone: 414-379-7779
Email: marfilius@wi.rr.com


Kelly Fonner
Assistive Technology Consultant

This session will look at the research on how symbols are being used in the reading and writing process. We’ll look at when symbols are supportive in nature in addition to when the use of them could possibly hinder an individuals progress.

The use of symbols has been more prevalent in the teaching of literacy skills.  These strategies are used to teach literacy skills to struggling students in addition to those with significant disabilities. WE can ask ourselves why teach literacy skills to children with significant disabilities? The following are some of those answers.
• partial participation
• improves quality of life
• includes in society - the inability separates,segregates and isolates
• entertainment and leisure time activities
• information for everyday life
• employment opportunities
• communication
• skill development and self-concept

As professionals we ask ourselves when should we begin using symbols for literacy? Or when should we stop using symbols? McNaughton (l993) concludes that symbol sets (or graphic representation sets) have a positive effect on written language development by serving as a scaffold for expressive communication and cognition. There is also some work from Karen Erickson that shows the use of symbols may actually slow down a reader and how do you know when that may be happening.

There are also a number of programs that provide text to picture support and how do you go about determining which one may work the best for an individual. A variety of programs will be explored from BoardMaker, Speaking Dynamically, Picture It, PixWriter, Clicker 4, and Writing with Symbols 2000 in addition to the new-2-you publication. We’ll discuss the role they can play with individuals as they acquire literacy skills.

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