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Feature: The People We Serve

New Literacy Technologies for Individuals with Communication Disabilities Individuals with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities often have difficulty with speech, which can limit their participation in traditional reading instruction activities. Many children with complex communication needs are benefiting from the research of David McNaughton, professor in the College of Education, and Janice Light, distinguished professor in the College of Health and Human Development. Through their work with the federally funded Augmentative and Alternative A number of children whose initial expectations for Communication Rehabilitation Engineering reading were extremely low have progressed significantly Research Center (AAC-RERC), McNaughton in their literacy skills through these new activities and Light have developed evidence-based literacy instruction activities for persons who make use of sign language, picture boards, and other AAC techniques. These resources are readily available to instructors, clinicians, and other professionals in a variety of formats. McNaughton and Light’s work has been cited as an example of successful research to practice in a report to Congress by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Web Site for Teaching Literacy Skills Literacy Instruction for Individuals with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Other Disabilities (aacliteracy.psu.edu) is a comprehensive Web site that promotes the translation of research to evidence-based practice. “This Web site provides information on instructional activities that teachers can use with students who have difficulty speaking,” says McNaughton. “This resource is useful not only for special education teachers, but for any teacher who has a child with special needs enrolled in their class. Parents have also told us that it gives them a better sense of what is possible for children with disabilities and it has helped them support literacy development at home.” The site’s teaching activities address basic skills such as sound blending, phoneme segregation, and letter-sound correspondences while supporting the use of these skills in personalized and motivating reading and writing activities. Featured on the Web site’s videos are a number of children whose initial expectations for reading were extremely low. But after participating in the adapted instructional activities, all of the children have progressed significantly in their literacy skills. The Web site receives some 1,200 visitors per month. It is also used by more than 800 undergraduate and graduate students in pre-professional training programs at universities nationwide. More than thirty-six external resource Web sites link to the AAC literacy site.

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Penn State College of Education

5/25/10 6:39 AM

Profile for Penn State College of Education

Penn State College of Education 2010 Magazine  

The 2010 issue of Penn State Education features the many ways Penn State College of Education faculty, staff, students, and alumni are invol...

Penn State College of Education 2010 Magazine  

The 2010 issue of Penn State Education features the many ways Penn State College of Education faculty, staff, students, and alumni are invol...