Speech-Language Pathologists

In 2001, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) published a position paper and guidelines on the "Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists with Respect to Reading and Writing in Children and Adolescents."

Included in this report were the following statements: "SLPs play a critical and direct role in the development of literacy for children and adolescents with communication disorders...SLPs also make a contribution to the literacy efforts of a school district or community on behalf of other children and adolescents."

Yet, in a recent national survey of school-based SLPs (see Katz et al., 2011), we found that 57 percent of the participating SLPs reported that they were not providing written language services.

Some SLPs have reported being overwhelmed already by the vast scope of our practice, and many do not feel prepared to provide high-quality assessment and therapy services in the area of written language.

As an SLP, you might not have received enough or any training in the area of literacy to fully meet the needs of students or clients with reading, spelling, and writing difficulties.

Many graduate programs are not providing sufficient written-language coursework or clinical experiences in their already rigorous and full curricula.

Not to worry. We can help.

As ASHA-certified SLPs, we, Drs. Katz and Pierson, are both clinicians who have practiced in school settings and, therefore, have intimate knowledge of school contexts. Dr. Katz worked as a public school SLP and at the renowned Lab School of Washington, in Washington, D.C., and Dr. Pierson practiced for 14 years as a public school SLP serving students of all ages. It was in these school-based contexts that we became increasingly more interested in helping the multitude of students with written language disorders, and this is what led us both to pursue doctoral educations.

We received our PhDs in Special Education with a specialty in Literacy, Language, and Learning Disabilities at the University of Michigan's School of Education.

The amalgamation of our SLP backgrounds with expert understandings of the role oral language plays in literacy development and disorder has made us particularly well suited for furthering the knowledge of our SLP colleagues who come from similar speech-language backgrounds.  

In addition to our school work, Dr. Katz has published widely and lectured extensively in the areas of reading and writing. Additionally, while as an Assistant and then Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Bowling Green State University, Dr. Katz developed and directed the ROWing Clinic for children and adults with reading, organizing, and writing disorders and difficulties. Through her teaching in the ROWing Clinic, Dr. Katz trained graduate students to become experts in the area of written language.

While at the University Center for the Development of Language and Literacy (UCLL), Dr. Pierson developed numerous programs for elementary through college-age students with language-based learning disabilities. Programs included Bridge to Kindergarten, Learning to Learn (upper elementary), Strategies for Academic Success (middle school), and Six Steps to Academic Success (college).

We have both trained undergraduate and graduate students and conducted workshops for SLPs and teachers on oral language, literacy, and other related topics affecting individuals from preschool age through adulthood.

If you are an SLP who is looking to learn more about written language, Drs. Katz and Pierson can design professional development experiences that meet your, your practice's, or your school's interests and objectives.

Specific topics for SLPs might include:

  • Assessing Written Language Skills in Preschool Children (or School-Age Children or Adults)

  • Assessing and Promoting Phonological Awareness and Processing

  • Early Reading: Breaking the Code

  • Comprehension of Written Text: Promoting Skills and Strategies

  • Analysis of Spelling Errors to Guide Intervention in Reading and Spelling

  • Improving Written Expression in School-Age Children (or Adults)

  • Collaborating with Reading Specialists and Teachers in Schools

  • Managing Your Caseload Through Collaboration in the Classroom


For more information, please contact us.