Exploring Supports for Students with Complex Communication Needs and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds in School Settings

Author: Ting Lam

Lam, Ting, 2023 Exploring Supports for Students with Complex Communication Needs and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds in School Settings, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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Backgrounds: Communication and education are fundamental human rights, and communicative literacy is essential for everyone to improve their quality of life. Students with complex communication needs (CCN) depend on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices to communicate. However, many schools may not be prepared to provide the appropriate support for students and their families, particularly for learners with CCN from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds. This study aimed to explore and gather perspectives of in-service teachers regarding culturally and linguistically responsive practice for students with CCN in school settings. The participants reported how they respond to the diverse needs of students with CCN and support culturally and linguistically diverse students and the classroom.

Method: A qualitative descriptive design was utilised incorporating semi-structured interviews with three in-service teachers currently teaching in South Australia. The interview data was thematically analysed.

Results: Eight themes were identified: Traditional approach—communication support to students with CCN; Inclusivity—cultural understanding; Inclusivity—abandonment of monolingual mindset; Using home language to bridge communication barrier; Attitudes and goal setting; Experience and training; Holistic support; and Teamwork.

Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of in-service teachers’ perceptions and reports how the monolingual mindset creates communication barriers and contributes to the double disadvantages of CLD students with CCN. The results suggest that it is imperative to support in-service teachers to be effective communication partners of CLD students with CCN and advocate for a culture change in school settings. Future research investigating the inclusion of students with CLD and CCN is required.

Keywords: complex communication needs; augmentative and alternative communication; culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2023
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Dr. Emma Grace