ArticulationFor SLPs and Educators

Orthographic Instruction: Improving Speech Intelligibility and Literacy Skills!

By August 30, 2011One Comment

I am so excited to introduce to you a fellow Speech-Language Pathologist named Keli Richmond, M.S. CCC-SLP, who is the author of the Literacy SpeaksⓇ program.  Literacy SpeaksⓇ  is an exciting and innovative approach that improves children’s speech intelligibility and language skills while developing a strong literacy foundation.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Keli speak this year at CSHA 2011 in Los Angeles, CA. Keli was one of the presenters.  Her seminar was fantastic and I walked away with so many great ideas to immediately incorporate into my articulation therapy sessions.  I am also very passionate about improving literacy skills for all our speech kids. Keli has done extensive research on the importance of incorporating the written letter and word into our traditional articulation therapy. Her website offers video demonstrations and materials which you can purchase for your program!  I highly recommend her program to SLPs out there.  As Speech-Language Pathologists, I believe we really need to be helping our clients and students become great readers as well as great speakers!  I know you will enjoy this article Keli has written! 


Orthographic Instruction:  Improve Speech Intelligibility and Establish Literacy Skills Simultaneously!

Author:  Keli Richmond, M.S., CCC-SLP

With the implementation of mandated programs such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Response to Intervention”, our time as clinicians and educators is more precious than ever.  Speech-language pathologists and educators need efficient, quality techniques that not only address speech-language goals, but support academic success and enhance literacy skills.
Orthographic Instruction is an effective and functional technique that incorporates printed cues into therapy and classroom activitiesPrinted cues stimulate the Orthographic processor.  The Orthographic processor is the only processor within the brain that activates the reading system.  Orthographic Instruction improves articulation and motor-planning skills and establishes a strong literacy foundation!
If the Orthographic processor has not been activated, the effectiveness of the reading and writing system (Orthographic processor, Phonological processor, Meaning processor and Context processor) is compromised. Activation of the Orthographic processor is overlooked with traditional techniques.  The Orthographic processor works closely with the Phonological processor.  The Orthographic processor recognizes and processes print.  Then, the Orthographic processor and the Phonological processor work together to effectively decode printed words (Adams, 1990).  Introducing children to sound-letter correlations early in therapy/educational experiences establishes and strengthens the link between the Orthographic processor and the Phonological processor.  Children are better prepared for later reading/writing tasks when the link between the Orthographic processor and the Phonological processor is functioning.

A well-formed early knowledge of letters and sound correlations has been found to be a strong predictor of later reading success.  In fact, sound-letter knowledge has been found to be a better predictor of reading success than IQ scores (Stanovich, Cunningham, and Feeman, 1984).

Gillon (2000) explains:
Explicit phoneme awareness and knowledge of grapheme-phoneme relationships may assist children in establishing accurate phonological representations.  For example, becoming consciously aware of the number and order of phonemes in a word, and having access to the orthographic cues from the word, may help children realize the breakdown in their communication attempt and provide cues to repair their attempt.  (p.138)
Orthographic Instruction utilizes a natural progression of learning steps:

  1. Recognition of alphabetic letter
  2. Correlation of alphabetic letter to target sound
  3. Incorporation of target sound into segmented and blended word(s)
  4. Combination of target words and sight words to create phrases
  5. Combination of target words and sight words to create sentences
  6. Incorporation of target words and sight words into books

Orthographic Instruction applications are versatile.  The techniques are effective in therapy sessions, classrooms and natural environments.  Preschool through early elementary school children, children with special needs, children with communication disorders, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students benefit from the applications.  Orthographic Instruction applications encompass “single” letter-to-sound correlations, digraphs (letter pairs representing single sounds) and vowels.
Orthographic Instruction enhances the following literacy skills:

  • Phonological Awareness
  • Print Awareness
  • Phoneme Isolation
  • Phoneme Identity
  • Phoneme Categorization
  • Phoneme Segmentation
  • Phoneme Blending
  • Decoding
  • Encoding
  • Sight Words
  • Silent Letters

Initiating early intervention with Orthographic Instruction is essential.  Research has found that early literacy development programs are more beneficial and supportive of long-term academic skills than remediation programs (Carter, 1984; Juel, 1988; Commission on Reading, National Academy of Education, 1985).  Reading remediation programs are costly and time consuming.  If children do not receive early intervention, they are likely to be unsuccessful throughout their academic experience.  Orthographic Instruction prepares children for academic success versus “closing the gap” with remediation programs.

With early intervention and implementation of Orthographic Instruction, children’s speech and literacy skills advance quickly; and, workloads of therapists and educators are lightened!
Orthographic Instruction is a functional technique that may be utilized by both speech-language pathologists and educators to improve speech intelligibility while developing fundamental literacy skills.

Adams, M. J. (1990).  Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Carter, L. F. (1984).  The sustaining effects study of compensatory and elementary education.  Educational Researcher, 4-13.
Commission on Reading, National Academy of Education.  (1985).  Becoming a nation of readers.  Washington, DC:  National Institute of Education.
Gillon, G.T. (2000).  The efficacy of phonological awareness intervention for children with spoken language impairment.  Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 31, 126-141.
Juel, C. (1988).  Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of fifty-four children from first through fourth grade.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 437-447.
Stanovich, K. E., Cunningham, A. E., & Freeman, D. J. (1984).  Intelligence, cognitive skills, and early reading progress.  Reading Research Quarterly, 19, 278-303.
Submitted by Keli Richmond – / 260-420-READ (7323)
Keli Richmond, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist specializing in early literacy development. She has degrees in both speech-language pathology and audiology, a minor in special education and a teaching license.   Keli presents on the topic of speech, language and literacy development to SLPs, educators and parents throughout the United States at in-services, seminars, and state and national conventions.  She is author of the Literacy Speaks!® program. Literacy Speaks!® introduces orthographic instruction (printed cues) in a comprehensive program that improves speech intelligibility and language skills while promoting a strong literacy foundation.
Keli is a past recipient of the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Professional Achievement Award, which recognizes outstanding professional development. She was a founding member of the United Way Women’s United, an organization dedicated to closing educational gaps through early literacy development.

One Comment

  • lisa farley says:

    I love the website and a great picture of the 2 of you. we talk to kersten a lot about you guys miss you lisa

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