Literacy Instruction for the Older Student


September 10-12, 2019, Pittsburgh, PA


The focus of this 2.5 day seminar will be to provide learners with a theoretical and practical foundation for the use of core vocabulary as it pertains to language and vocabulary development for augmented communicators as well as how to integrate the use of core vocabulary as a primary strategy for targeting communication and language in home and academic settings.   Additionally, our guest presenter will provide learners with theory and strategies for literacy instruction for older students.  It is critical for students who experience complex communication needs (CCN) develop sound literacy skills in order to increase their participation and communication interactions with as many people as possible. Without the requisite mature literacy abilities, this group will be disadvantaged in that they may be unable to access the dedicated, sophisticated, high or low technological AAC systems which are available to support their educational, vocational and social experiences throughput their lives. This means that they will neither be able to enrich their life experiences, nor develop their cognitive potential to the full.  Reading is a complex process that places many cognitive demands on the reader. It is well documented that individuals with CCN who have sufficient intellectual ability and receptive language have greater difficulty than their peers in becoming literate. Yet, it is possible for individuals with CCN to master the code, despite the often irregularity of instruction as well the fact that English orthography is often variant and unpredictable. This presentation will aim to highlight teaching strategies and approaches that have been successful in teaching the older student become literate.


Bruce Baker, PhD

Deborah Laurent Witkowski, MA, CCC-SLP

Tracy M. Kovach, PhD, CCC-SLP

Russell Cross

Maureen Casey, MA, BA (Hons), ACE (Incl), DSE (Re), DE (JP)

Learning Outcomes:

Identify the five pillars of successful AAC outcomes.

Discuss why core vocabulary needs to be an integral aspect of an AAC system.

Discuss the role of core vocabulary in language acquisition.

Describe the three language representation methods.

Explain why two hits are better than one when representing core vocabulary in an AAC system.

Identify the components necessary for an AAC system to be a language system.

Identify four communication partner strategies.

Discuss the process of training communication partners.

Demonstrate the basic patterns within the UNITY software.

Describe the benefits of descriptive teaching strategies.

Discuss the importance of developing motor automaticity.

Discuss the process of learning to read.

Explain how to assess for literacy instruction.

Discuss how to develop a reading program for a client.

Generate linguistically oriented IEP goals and objectives for students who use AAC.

Discuss strategies that enable students who use AAC to demonstrate learning to demonstrate learning within the components of Bloom’s Taxonomy.


CEUs This activity is offered for up to 2.0 CEUs (10.0 hours of instruction). To register for CEUs:  

Download, and complete the following forms.

Save the files names: 190912_SCS_Lastname_Firstname

Send both files to

Upon completion of the two forms and passing the quiz, a CEU certificate will be sent

Note: If any difficulty is encountered in using this form, write to to request an alternative file format.