Communicative Competence

Communication services and supports for individuals with severe disabilities: Guidance for assessment and intervention

The National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of People with Severe Disabilities (NJC) reviewed the literature regarding practices for people with severe disabilities in order to update guidance provided in documents originally published in 1992. Changes in laws, definitions, and policies that affect communication attainments by persons with severe disabilities are presented, along with guidance regarding assessment and intervention practices. A revised version of the Communication Bill of Rights, a powerful document that describes the communication rights of all individuals, including those with severe disabilities, is included in this article. The information contained within this article is intended to be used by professionals, family members, and individuals with severe disabilities to inform and advocate for effective communication services and opportunities.

Brady, N.C., Bruce, S., Goldman, A., Erickson, K., Mineo, B., Ogletree, B.T., Paul, D., Romski, M.A., Sevcik, R., Siegel, E., Schoonover, J., Snell, M., Sylvester, L., & Wilkinson, K. “Communication services and supports for individuals with severe disabilities: Guidance for assessment and intervention. “ American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 121, no. 2 (2016): 121-138.

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

Review the Communication Bill of Rights at ASHA. Can you assure all your students have these fundamental rights? If they do not, what can you do to better support their communication?

Validation of an inventory of best practices in the provision of Augmentative and Alternative Communication services for students with severe disabilities in general education classrooms

The purpose of this investigation was to compile and then validate a set of best practices related to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and its role in fostering inclusive education. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) discussed the principle of inclusive settings with typical peers in reference to interventions involving persons with mental retardation/developmental disabilities (ASHA, 2005a). That document identified strategies found to be effective, beginning with a shared value of inclusion, strong team collaboration, consideration of student interests and priorities, and embedding the AAC in naturally occurring activities.

Calculator, S.N., & Black, T. “Validation of an inventory of best practices in the provision of Augmentative and Alternative Communication services for students with severe disabilities in general education classrooms.” American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 18, no. 4 (2009): 329-342.

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

If you have a student using an Augmentative and Alternative Communication System, seek out ways to more appropriately and effectively integrate the system in the classroom. Here are a few resources to support you:

The importance of developing communicative competence

The purpose of this paper is to outline the importance of developing communicative competence for students with significant cognitive disabilities at any age, to raise awareness of the current substantial issues in the provision of communication supports and services in schools in the United States, and to highlight some promising practices demonstrating success in developing communicative competence for students with significant cognitive disabilities. We advocate for students with significant cognitive disabilities to receive early intervention addressing the provision of augmentative communication, to develop a level of communicative competence by school-age, and to be supported to use augmentative communication in order to maximize their access to and progress in the general curriculum. Further, we recommend accountability structures within the educational system and professional development for educators and speech-language pathologists regarding communicative competence for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Kleinert, J., Holman, A., McSheehan, M., & Kearns, J. “The importance of developing communicative competence.” Synthesis Report #1. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky National Alternate Assessment Center. (2010). Accessed April 15, 2020 from http://www.naacpartners.org/publications/2010KlienertHolmanMcSheehanKearns.pdf

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

Ensure every student has an effective way to communicate. Learn more from the NCSC Brief: Promoting Communication Skills in Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities.