Communication is often the focus of AAC learning and parents and professionals tend to overlook the need to develop literacy skills in communicators. This may be due to several reasons. Some may surmise that learning to read and write is not for learners with cognitive challenges while others may feel at a loss about how to support their literacy acquisition. However, research suggests that with focussed intervention strategies, communicators can be supported to gain functional literacy skills.
Why Literacy is Important for AAC Users
The answer is pretty straightforward. If we want communicators to lead fulfilling lives and actively participate in society like their peers do, we must equip them with literacy skills. Learning to read and write helps communicators foster relationships and build social connections. In addition to facilitating employment opportunities, literacy also enables them to be more independent thus boosting their self-esteem.
Activities to Support Literacy
Here are a few simple activities that can help in developing literacy –
Spin the Wheel Games
How to Play:
Make a DIY Spin Wheel using paper plates or cardboard, paper clips, and fasteners/brads. Spin the wheel and encourage the communicator to identify the word beginning with the alphabet. The communicator then taps that word on their AAC system.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate the smallest units of sounds in a language. It involves isolating, blending, stretching, and segmenting a word into phonemes.
I Have, Who Has
How to Play:
Use a deck of ‘I Have, Who Has’ Vocabulary cards with a group of learners. Learners pick a card and find the ‘I have’ – word and ‘Who has’ – word on their AAC system. Include phrases such as ‘I have’, and ‘Who has’ in the learner’s AAC system for this game.
Vocabulary skills refer to the words the learner can understand and use. It includes receptive vocabulary which constitutes the words the learner recognizes and understands. Expressive vocabulary refers to words the learner can use to convey their thoughts and ideas.
How to Play:
Learners take turns rolling the dice on the Spelling Game Board. Then they write the spelling of the word the dice falls on. Communicators can type the spelling on their AAC systems.
Spelling is a significant component of literacy. It involves making connections between individual letters and sounds. Knowledge of spelling is essential to reading, writing, and comprehension skills.
Hope you enjoyed reading about literacy activities and games for AAC users. Please write your ideas and feedback in the comment section below.