Classroom-wide Core Vocabulary Instruction for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities – 60 minutes

This webinar will review an implementation program, called Project Core, aimed at providing classroom professionals with the training, tools and ongoing support needed to deliver classroom-wide communication instruction to students with significant cognitive disabilities. The program specifically targets students who are not yet using speech, sign language or symbols to communicate in flexible ways. The instruction is delivered by teachers, teaching assistants and other classroom staff, and all students have individual access to an augmentative communication system with Universal Core vocabulary. The Universal Core vocabulary consists of 36 highly useful single words that can be used alone or in combination to communicate for a range of purposes on countless topics with a variety of communication partners. Available Universal Core vocabulary formats to support student access through direct pointing, touch, eye gaze selection, and partner-assisted scanning will be discussed, along with an online tool to guide the selection of suitable formats.

Modeling and explicit instruction of the Universal Core vocabulary is incorporated into daily activities and common instructional routines. An overview of available instructional planning guides and self-evaluation and observational checklists will be provided. The development and evaluation of the Project Core implementation program is supported by a Stepping Up Technology Implementation grant from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Preliminary analysis of data from 17 classroom sites will be presented. All training materials, tools and support resources are available from the Project’s website at:
Required disclaimer: This presentation was produced under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No. H327S140017. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this presentation is intended or should be inferred.
Classroom-wide Core Vocabulary Instruction for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities Handout

Lori Geist

Lori Geist


Lori Geist, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lori is a certified speech-language pathologist with an emphasis in augmentative communication and assistive technology. She has worked in direct service, consultation, and product development related to AAC, language, and literacy intervention for students with complex communication needs. Lori currently serves as the project director for a research initiative called Project Core.


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