Access to Literacy for the Student who Relies on AAC



Education Stream

  • Marion Stanton (CandLE Limited)
  • Rosie Clarke (Woodlands School)


There is not a preferred or recognised approach in the UK to the delivery of literacy education to students who rely on AAC. This is despite at least two decades of research into the literacy learning needs of this group of students. This presentation will examine the problems that AAC users face in learning literacy, including an overview of the research and variety of approaches currently used in the Uk. Proposals will be put forward suggesting some practical solutions to the fact that illiteracy rates remain high amongst this group of learners.


Marion and Rosie have many years experience of working with students who have complex needs. Both have spent considerable time examining the alternatives that are available to support literacy learning for this group of learners including attendance at a number of seminars and training courses in the subject, the development of resources and the provision of training.


We have found that there is a lack of cohesion in the UK with a number of different views being held on the best way forward. Some of these views are polarised.


There is a need for educators to work together better to develop a comprehensive and collaborative approach to literacy teaching for students who have complex needs, which includes students who rely on AAC. Specific proposals will be put forward for a move in the direction of evidence based strategies to increase access to literacy for students who have complex needs.

Level of Session


Age Group

All Ages


Primary school
Secondary school
Special school
Further/Higher Ed.