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Using the ICF to improve language learning outcomes

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This paper will examine the implications of the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) on assessment and intervention for people with severe-profound and multiple disabilities. Traditionally intervention has been focused on the individual. The ICF encourages a holistic approach , with consideration of environments and communication partners as well as the individual.

• What receptive language “input” does an individual have from their world?

• What is the impact of a lack of speech on the person’s environment and communication partners?

• What is the impact of factors such as movement difficulties, vision and/or hearing impairments on individual’s,communication partners and environments?

• How can language learning be supported and accommodated, taking into account the strengths and difficulties influencing the individual, communication partners and environments?

• How much receptive language input is provided in our interventions?

This paper proposes using the ICF as a positive influence on our assessment and intervention practice, to be used with the communication competency model and the participation model.The ideas explored in this discussion paper are based on a recent review of the complex communication needs literature and many years clinical experience in working with children and adults with severe-profound and multiple disabilities.

This paper will bring us together to reflect on current clinical practice. The ICF encourages a strengths-based, problem-solving approach to enable people with complex communication needs to develop language skills and communication competence.


Harriet Korner    
Harriet Korner Consulting


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