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enABLING Teachers -- Activity #6 -- Classroom or online discussion

Literacy Assessment & Instruction by SLPs

Suggestions for Educators:

Demonstrate that literacy is a skill that is fundamental to communication for AAC users. This means SLPs must be directly involved in the assessment and the instruction for AAC users.

Step 1. Have a discussion about the importance of literacy skills for true independence

Step 2. Discuss how literacy assessment might be modified for AAC users

Step 3. Discuss how literacy instruction might be differ for AAC users

Begin a discussion of "Communication Independence"

Communication Independence has been defined as "the ability to talk about anything at any time with anyone." (Dowden, 1999; Also see UW Augcomm website) She maintains that true independence is only possible when an individual is able to spell well enough to convey anything he or she wishes to communicate. Without spelling ability, the individual is dependent on someone else to identify vocabulary and pre-program it.

Read the following profiles and show the clips that accompany them. Discuss how these individuals use spelling to communicate novel ideas that could not be predicted and pre-programmed by others.

Kristin Rytter
Kristin certainly could not write her dissertation with pre-programmed utterances. Nor could she develop resources on the web for POST-ITT

Rick Hohn
Rick could not write and deliver his sermons without the ability to spell to say anything he wants.

Snoopi
Snoopi could not compose his music without complete independence in what he wants to say

Heidi Janz
A playwrite can never be restricted in vocabulary!

Discuss how literacy assessment might be modified for AAC users

Have students bring standardized literacy assessments to class. Introduce a case example from among the AAC users profiled on this site and discuss how the testing might be modified for that individual. You will need to identify tests that do not require any oral reading, and discuss how they might be modified for these individuals. For example:

Kristin Rytter using eye-gaze (See Kristin as a young girl in the AAC Museum)
As a young child, Kristin could only be tested only via eye-gaze. How might you use a standardized assessment but also prevent the partner from reading into her responses.

Rick Hohn using head pointer (See Rick's profile)
How could Rick be tested using his headpointer?

Discuss how literacy instruction might be different for AAC users

Have students bring standardized literacy assessments to class. Introduce a case example from among the AAC users profiled on this site and discuss how the instruction might be modified for that individual. Consider again:

Jeff Grace using pointing (See Jeff's profile)
Jeff can point to words, but with some difficulty. How might literacy instruction have proceeded when he was younger?

Rick Hohn using head pointer (See Rick's profile)
How would literacy instruction have proceeded when Rick was younger?