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Reading-Related Phonological Processing Interventions for Individuals who use AAC

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Aim: This paper presents the results of a systematic review to determine the effectiveness of various reading-related phonological processing interventions (including phonological awareness and single word decoding) for individuals with Complex Communication Needs (CCN).
Problem: Literacy is a key component to success in many areas of life. For individuals who rely on AAC, the literacy is exponentially more important. It unlocks full access to true self-expression and creativity (Light, McNaughton, Weyer, & Karg, 2008). Unfortunately, an estimated 90% of individuals who use AAC are entering adulthood without functional literacy skills (Foley & Wolter, 2010). This paper compiles information regarding effective phonological processing into one systematic review in an effort to help change these outcomes.
Methods: An extensive review of the literature published from 1980 to 2015 was conducted that included intervention on reading-related phonological processing interventions including phonological awareness and single word decoding.
Results: A total of 13 studies (15 experiments) were identified involving 42 individuals (ages 4-22) with a wide range of diagnoses. Studies utilized direct instruction in phonological awareness, storybook methods, or discovery learning instruction. Highly effective interventions that met criteria for conclusive evidence utilized direct instruction in specific phonological processing skills to improve phonological awareness and decoding.
Conclusions: Individuals with a wide range of disabilities who use AAC can learn reading-related phonological awareness and decoding skills. There is a small amount of conclusive evident that using direct instruction approaches to teach phonological processing skills are highly effective. Further research regarding reading-related phonological processing skills is urgently needed.


April Yorke    
Pennsylvania State University
United States

Janice Light    
Pennsylvania State University
United States


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