Semin Speech Lang 2008; 29(2): 120-132
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1079126
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction for Individuals Who Require Augmentative and Alternative Communication: A Case Study of a Student with Multiple Disabilities

Janice Light1 , David McNaughton2 , Marissa Weyer1 , Lauren Karg1
  • 1Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
  • 2Department of Educational and School Psychology and Special Education, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
21 July 2008 (online)


Literacy skills provide numerous benefits to individuals who require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), including new opportunities for education, work, and social interaction. Literacy skills also have a powerful impact on communication and language development. This paper describes the components of effective evidence-based literacy instruction, including skills to target for instruction, effective instructional procedures to teach these skills, and adaptations to accommodate the needs of individuals with significant speech, motor, and other disabilities. The paper also presents a case study that describes ongoing intervention with an 8-year-old girl with multiple disabilities who required AAC. Evidence-based instruction was provided in phonologic awareness, letter-sound correspondences, decoding, sight-word recognition, reading connected text, reading comprehension skills, and early writing and keyboarding skills. During the 16 months of intervention, a total of 55 hours of instruction, the student acquired 20 letter-sound correspondences, learned to use decoding and sight-word skills to read 60 words, and began to read simple texts both in shared reading activities and independently. She also began to type simple short messages and stories using spelling approximations. The acquisition of these new literacy skills resulted in increased educational opportunities for the learner and also enhanced her language and communication skills.


Janice Light, Ph.D. 

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Penn State University

308 Ford Building, University Park, PA 16802