R2: AAC Literacy Decoding Technology

Team Leaders: Janice Light, Christine Holyfield, Erik Jakobs, David McNaughton
AAC Consumer Team: Chris Klein, Tracy Rackensperger

Challenge and Background Information

  • Literacy skills are essential to full participation in today’s society.
  • More than 90% of individuals with complex communication needs enter adulthood without literacy skills.
  • Individuals with complex needs who are not literate rely on pictures.
  • Current AAC technologies do not support the transition from picture symbols to literacy.
  • RERC on AAC (2014-20) developed an AAC software feature to support the transition to sight word reading.
    • An individual selects a picture symbol
    • The written word appears dynamically and is spoken out
    • 88% of participants increased their literacy skills following exposure to the app.

The new RERC on AAC will investigate the effectiveness of a new app to support the acquisition of decoding skills (i.e., skills to sound out and read new words) by individuals with complex communication needs.

demonstration of T2L feature

To support decoding, the app will:

(1) display the written word dynamically, paired with speech output, upon selection of a picture symbol;

(2) highlight each letter in the word in sequence, and play the corresponding sound for each highlighted letter slowly, supporting decoding; and

(3) highlight the entire word, paired with speech output (see Figure R2-1).

Additional discussion of the design of the transition to literacy (T2L) decoding feature (Light, McNaughton, & Jakobs, 2019) is available here.

Research Studies

The RERC on AAC will conduct a series of research studies to evaluate the effects of the T2L decoding features with individuals with complex communication needs across a wide variety of ages and disability groups.

Additional Information

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