Using Pictures to Stimulate Development through Learning Words: The Effect of Personal Photographs and Picture Communication Symbols on Increasing Sight Word Vocabulary for Students with Severely Limited Reading Ability




Maher, Mary Kathryn

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The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a reading intervention on increasing the sight word recognition using language books across three instructional phases for three students with moderate disabilities. Students’ attitudes and parents’ perceptions of the instructional methods employed were also assessed. A multiple baseline design across participants was implemented to examine the effect of reading strategies on increasing sight word vocabulary for children with moderate disabilities who were an average age of 17.7 years. All the participants were able to understand simple directions and had limited conversational speech. Target words were selected using parent input. Following baseline condition, during which student performance was assessed using flash cards containing words, the three treatment phases included use of: (a) phase I: personal photographs embedded within the new vocabulary words; (b) phase II: picture communication symbols; and (c) phase III: generalization to flash cards containing only words. Student maintenance of word recognition was also measured. Reading accuracy data were collected during each phase. Participant surveys and parent interviews were analyzed to examine the attitudes and perceptions of their parents. Visual inspection of the data revealed that all the participants increased their sight word vocabulary using both reading strategies, including personal photographs and picture communication symbols. These findings were also supported by exceptionally high levels of percent of nonoverlapping data from baseline to treatment phases and statistical significance on randomization tests. Two of the three participants were able to generalize their knowledge during the flashcard phase. Survey results revealed that two of the three students preferred using personal photographs for learning new vocabulary words. All parents were positive in their assessment of the instructional methods used and reported that their expectations for instruction were met. These findings support previous studies demonstrating that certain reading strategies can be effective for increasing sight word vocabulary for individuals with moderate intellectual disabilities who have severely limited reading ability. Future research can address which of the strategies implemented may be more powerful for similar students.



Sight word vocabulary, Picture reading, Reading and students with moderate intellectual disabilities, Reading and student with disabilities, Literacy and students with disabilities, Picture reading skills