Collection Conceptual versus Concrete Vocabulary

Date Created: 5/2/2016

Posts: 2

At the Center for Literacy & Disability Studies, we have just finished the first year of a communication intervention study focused on building early symbolic communication skills among students with complex needs including sensory loss. Our year 1 results are exciting. A group of 72 children (ages 3-21) made statistically significant improvements in both complexity and range of communication. One of the biggest challenges we encountered was the commonly held (mis)belief that we have to start with concrete referents. This collection will focus on conceptual versus concrete vocabulary for students with complex needs.

collection curator

Karen Erickson

I am the Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and a Professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am also lucky enough to be the David E and Dolores J. Yoder Distinguished Professor of Literacy and Disabilities. Those of you who have been in the AAC field since the beginning will certainly recognize the name, David Yoder. I am a former teacher of children with significant disabilities, and since 2001, I have been teaching speech-language pathologists at the masters and PhD levels. My research focuses on literacy assessment and instruction for struggling readers of all ages including those with significant cognitive disabilities. I am an associate director of the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment Consortia. I co-developed the Tar Heel Reader online library of accessible books for beginning readers, and I am currently P.I. on Project Core, which is an OSEP-funded Stepping Up Technology Implementation project focused on building symbolic communication among students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Quote This post was meant to start the conversation about conceptual versus concrete vocabulary.

Research Supporting Conceptual Vocabulary

Karen Erickson. - 5/2/2016

There is one recent study that specifically targeted conceptual vocabulary in an AAC intervention for a child with multiple disabilities including deafblindness. You can find more about it here: htt...

Quote Conceptually referenced vocabulary can be used in a variety of ways across contexts

Increasing Opportunities to Teach and Learn

Karen Erickson. - 5/4/2016

As we are teaching conceptually-referenced vocabulary, we constantly look for ways to link the new concept with some experience or routine students know. For example, we are teaching a symbol (graphi...


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