In 2014 Speech Pathology Tasmania conducted the action research project Sound Systems in collaboration with and funded by Libraries Tasmania (then LINC Tasmania).

The purpose of Sound Systems was to see what happened when we used the phonemes (speech sounds) and language as the starting points to help adult literacy problems. Another purpose was to make recommendations to Libraries Tasmania about the development of its adult literacy programs.

Participants had an assessment of their phonemic processing and language skills. Then they did a program of activities which was designed by the speech pathologist to accurately respond to their individual learning needs.

Honouring relationship was combined with direct-instruction of those skills which the participants needed help with. This brought dignity and confidence to the adult literacy learners.

Using the speech sounds as the starting point to learn the written code, the research showed that adult learners with low literacy skills can make significant gains in just a few months.

Understanding phonemic-processing and language-processing is an essential foundation if our systems are to change the futures of those whose lives are disadvantaged by low literacy.

Read the report here.

The important message of hope is that it is never too late. Past reading struggles, even failures, can be turned around.