The new demands of this "computer and technology age" have focused international attention on literacy levels, on literacy development and literacy disorders. Governments have launched programs to reduce literacy difficulties and support functional literacy for all. In this context, the needs of individuals with severe speech and physical impairments may seem relatively small, and even unimportant. However, for this group of individuals in particular unlocking the literacy code opens up tremendous opportunities, minimizing the disabling effects of their underlying speech and motor impairments, and supporting participation in society. Ironically however, for a group for whom literacy is such an important achievement, current studies suggest that achieving functional literacy skills is particularly challenging.In order to read, individuals with severe speech impairments must access a set of written symbols and decode them to abstract meaning just as anyone else must do. They must convert underlying messages into an alternative external symbol format in order to write. In order to become expert in both of these activities, they must learn at least a certain core of knowledge about how the symbols and messages relate to each other. Just as there are many ways to skin a chicken, there are many possible ways to achieve mastery of reading and writing. Although the essence of the task may remain the same for individuals with congenital speech impairments, they may process the task, or develop task mastery in ways that are quite different from speaking children who have no additional physical impairments. "Literacy and Augmentative and Alternative Communication" focuses on individuals with combined physical and communication impairments, who rely at least some of the time on aided communication. It investigates the range of research and application issues relating to AAC and literacy (primarily reading and writing skills), from the emergent literacy stage up through adulthood use of reading for various vocational and leisure purposes. It provides a balanced view of both the whole language as well as the more analytic approaches to reading instruction necessary for the development of reading skills.
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"Dr. Martine Smith has made an immense contribution to the AAC field with this text. Literacy and AAC is far and away the most comprehensive and scholarly treatment to date of the issues impacting literacy learning in AAC users. Dr. Smith has thoroughly documented the relevant English language research from both sides of the Atlantic across multiple fields including the AAC literature, mainstream reading and writing, speech and language, and special education. Speech-language clinicians, graduate students, and scholars will find Literacy and AAC a marvelous resource in more thoroughly and thoughtfully addressing literacy in persons with severe communication impairments."
-David A. Koppenhaver, Ph.D., College of Education, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA
"In this excellent book Martine Smith has gathered together key information about the literacy skill development of children from around the world and then applied the current 'state of the science' to the crucial issues and challenges facing individuals with complex communication needs who are learning to read and write. Dr. Smith highlights a wide spectrum of needed skills and delineates strategies (assessment and intervention) that professionals can utilize to assist individuals who rely on AAC to develop crucial literacy skills. This book is a very important resource for educators and speech-language pathologists. It is also readily accessible to students in education and rehabilitation and to family members of individuals with complex communication needs. Dr. Smith has written a book that is easy-to-read and organized in ways that make learning straightforward and interesting. I highly recommend the book and applaud her for providing this valuable resource."
-Sarah W. Blackstone, Ph.D. CCC-SP, President, Augmentative Communication Inc., Monterey, California, USA; Partner, Rehabilitation Engineering Resource Center on Communication Enhancement (AAC-RERC)
"Literacy and Augmentative and Alternative Communication brilliantly delineates the skills necessary for reading and spelling. Departing from the usual description of literacy development, Smith presents the reader with an insightful and comprehensive explanation of the ways that AAC influences literacy acquisition among special needs children. The author's considerable knowledge of the field is also demonstrated in her thorough presentation of assessment and the masterful way she leads the reader through the practical questions of intervention. This book is an excellent example of what the author herself calls 'a considerate text, ...[one] that clearly outlines the structure and purpose of the text, uses accessible language, and respects the knowledge available to, and required by, the reader'."
-Annika Dahlgren Sandberg, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden
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