Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Kristy Weissling

Date of this Version

Fall 12-2021


Proud, P. (2021). Current literacy interventions for AAC users (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Under the Supervision of Professor Kristy Weissling. Lincoln, Nebraska: November 2021

Copyright © 2021 Payton Proud


Purpose: Literacy provides individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with an avenue to share their original thoughts through generative communication. There is limited research regarding literacy intervention for AAC users, particularly in high school. This study sought to (a) identify literacy interventions used with high school AAC users, (b) determine the importance placed on literacy by SLPs for high school AAC users, and (c) compare the importance of literacy intervention in high school to other ages of AAC users and other areas of intervention.

Method: Ninety-two Nebraska school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) completed an online survey to answer the research questions.

Results: According to the SLPs surveyed, phonological awareness interventions and adapting literacy materials were used as literacy interventions for all ages of AAC users. Additionally, the importance of literacy remained rated in the range of “very important” across the age span. In contrast, the importance of life skills decreased from “extremely important” in early intervention to “very important” in elementary school, then rose again to “extremely important” in middle and high school. Participants reported the top three reasons SLPs discontinue literacy intervention for AAC users as the “student has gained necessary skills,” “intrinsic client factors (e.g., disability level, vision, motor),” and a “focus on other interventions.” The top three barriers to literacy intervention were identified as a “lack of training/confidence in literacy instruction,” “lack of AAC materials,” and “caseload size.”

Conclusion: The limited variety of interventions selected for literacy intervention with AAC users across the age span suggests there is not enough research regarding high school literacy intervention. Nebraska school-based SLPs may not be trained in specific strategies to use with different age/developmental groups, or that intervention selection is based on literacy skill-level rather than age. Rather than importance, other factors may be contributing to lower rates of literacy intervention such as other treatments competing with literacy for intervention time (e.g., life skills).

Advisor: Kristy Weissling