Augmentative and Alternative Communication | VOL. 38
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Using key-word signing to support learners in South African schools: a study of teachers’ perceptions

Publication Date Apr 3, 2022

Abstract

Key-word-signing (KWS), an unaided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategy, has an important role to play in the education system. To date, limited research exists regarding the use of unaided AAC strategies in the school environment, especially in low- and middle-income countries. To address this research gap, the current study aimed to explore the perceptions of South African teachers toward the use of KWS strategies in the educational context. The study used a descriptive paper-based survey comprised of both closed and open-ended questions that was completed by 101 special education teachers. The sample was drawn from 10 public and independent schools for learners with special education needs in five urban school districts within South Africa’s Gauteng province. These schools accommodate students with a broad spectrum of disabilities and are likely to include learners with complex communication needs. The participants identified various factors and challenges that influenced the use of KWS within the education system (e.g., school culture, parents and other team members, community awareness, learner-related considerations, and training needs). These factors and challenges are assessed and discussed in relation to both local and international norms. Recommendations are made regarding expanding both an understanding and acceptance of unaided AAC strategies as a further means to support learning in the educational context.

Concepts

Learners In South African Schools Key-word-signing And Alternative Communication Urban School Districts South African Schools Educational Context Gauteng Province Alternative Communication International Norms School Culture

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