What is the purpose of this website?

This website provides guidelines for teaching literacy skills to learners with special needs, especially learners with complex communication needs (CCN) such as:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Developmental apraxia
  • Multiple disabilities

This website provides information on:

  • What skills to teach
  • How to teach these skills
  • Videotaped examples of instruction with learners with special needs


Meet one of our students


  • Krista has multiple challenges, including a hearing impairment, a visual impairment, and a motor impairment. She also has a tracheostomy.
  • Krista has a dynamic personality. She makes everyone smile.
  • Like many of her peers, she loves Zac Efron from High School Musical and Zack and Cody from the Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
  • She uses sign approximations and a computer with speech output (a Mercury with Speaking Dynamically Pro software). Because of her hearing impairment, she does best when others sign as they talk.
  • We started to work with Krista when she was 8 years old. At that time, she was in a special education class at school and was not receiving literacy instruction.
  • Watch this video of Krista at 9 years of age. She is independently reading a personalized book about a summer adventure with Zac Efron.
  • She is so excited to be a reader!
  • Visit the rest of the website to learn more about how Krista learned to read stories independently.

Krista reading about Zac Efron from AAC Learning Center - Penn State on Vimeo.

Unauthorized copying, transmittal, or exhibition of this video outside of this website is prohibited.



Last Updated: December 21, 2018