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The SLP's Role in Literacy

Angela Anthony, PhD, CCC-SLP

October 24, 2022



What is my role as an SLP related to literacy, and how does it differ from what other professionals do?



The ASHA Practice Portal document on written language disorders includes the following statement: “Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a critical and direct role in the development of literacy in children and adolescents and in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of written language disorders, including dyslexia” (ASHA, n.d.a.). The SLP’s training includes knowledge about spoken language, which is the foundation of written language development. Thus, SLPs should be involved in preventative activities, such as collaborating with classroom teachers to provide lessons for all children in early literacy skills, such as print knowledge, phonological and phonemic awareness, narrative, and vocabulary (Justice & Kaderavek, 2004; Kaderavek & Justice, 2004; Terrell & Watson, 2018). The SLP’s role continues throughout the school-age years, focused on services for students with communication disorders when the disorder has an impact on the educational success of the student. Collaboration with teachers continues to be important to support linguistic elements of the curriculum for students with disabilities and those at risk for failure (ASHA, 2010b).

While classroom teachers take on the role of Tier 1 instruction in reading and writing, specialized literacy professionals can provide individualized support to teachers and students to address the needs of students with literacy difficulties. The International Literacy Association (2015) published a research brief that describes and distinguishes the roles of school-based literacy professionals, including reading/literacy specialists, literacy coaches, and literacy coordinators/supervisors. The SLP may collaborate with some or all of these professionals in providing literacy intervention. Roles may vary by setting or even by district or individual school, depending on which professionals are available (ASHA, n.d.a).

This Ask the Expert is an excerpt from the course, 20Q: The Importance of Explicit Literacy Instruction in Early Elementary Grades.

angela anthony

Angela Anthony, PhD, CCC-SLP

Dr. Angela Anthony is an Associate Professor at Eastern Illinois University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in childhood language disorders, literacy, and sign language. She also mentors student research and supervises diagnostics and treatment in the university clinic setting. Dr. Anthony previously served as a member and Coordinator of ASHA SIG 10: Issues in Higher Education and is a past president of the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Related Courses

20Q: The Importance of Explicit Literacy Instruction in Early Elementary Grades
Presented by Angela Anthony, PhD, CCC-SLP


Angela Anthony, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #10284Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Well-organized presentation'   Read Reviews
Key processes in literacy development and tools for differentiating between typical and disordered written language are described in this course. In addition, brief descriptions of suggested intervention strategies and references to related resources are provided for further exploration.

20Q: English Learners and Developmental Language Disorder - ​Strategies to Develop Academic Vocabulary Skills
Presented by Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, PhD, CCC-SLP, F-ASHA


Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, PhD, CCC-SLP, F-ASHA
Course: #10266Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'I love the examples of short term objectives and I love the suggestion of students bringing their language arts books to speech class'   Read Reviews
This course discusses Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) in English Learners (EL). Specific, research-based strategies are provided for developing academic vocabulary skills and phonological awareness skills in this group of students.

20Q: Providing Supportive Intervention for Trauma-Exposed Students with Communication Disorders
Presented by Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, PhD, CCC-SLP, F-ASHA


Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, PhD, CCC-SLP, F-ASHA
Course: #10310Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'The course gives a good overview of how trauma affects children and what SLPs can do to help in the speech therapy setting'   Read Reviews
The definition of childhood trauma, the experiences that constitute trauma in a student’s life, and the concept of trauma-informed intervention are described in this course. Practical, hands-on suggestions are provided for strategies that support students with communication disorders who have experienced trauma, and activities to improve their social and executive function skills.

20Q: Grammar and Syntax for School-Age Learners
Presented by Monica Gordon Pershey, EdD, CCC-SLP


Monica Gordon Pershey, EdD, CCC-SLP
Course: #10324Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Great course and love the Q & A format!'   Read Reviews
This course discusses why it is important for SLPs to diagnose and intervene to help school-age children and adolescents who struggle with grammar and syntax. Information on the development of grammar and syntax, procedures for assessment, academic challenges for students with grammar/syntax impairments, and curriculum-based interventions are provided.

Reading Comprehension and the SLP: Foundational Understanding
Presented by Angie Neal, MS, CCC-SLP


Angie Neal, MS, CCC-SLP
Course: #10763Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'great examples'   Read Reviews
This is Part 1 of a two-part series. This course provides SLPs with foundational knowledge needed to directly address and collaboratively support reading comprehension across all grade levels. Models of language and reading comprehension, comprehension processes vs. products, instruction in comprehension skills vs. strategies, factors in reading comprehension difficulties, and connections to general education are discussed.

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