Many treatments for aphasia focus on improving the person with aphasia’s language abilities. However, sometimes it makes more sense to change the environment to make things easier for the person with aphasia. Supported reading comprehension is a technique that aims to do just that.
Many people with aphasia experience difficulty with reading. Some people can read simple text but have difficulty with long or complex text. Other people can only read single, familiar words. Some people cannot read at all.
At the same time, reading is a skill that is important to many people. Being able to read increases independence and can be fun. However, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) do not always have time to focus on reading. Typically, verbal speech is the priority in speech therapy. Luckily, there are ways to support a person with aphasia’s reading abilities even outside of speech therapy.
Supported reading comprehension is a technique to make written text more accessible to people with aphasia. There are many ways to make text more “aphasia-friendly.” Some examples of the techniques that are used in supported reading comprehension are:
- Adding drawings, images and emojis
- Using personally relevant photographs
- Simplified sentence structure and vocabulary
- Making the format easier to read – this includes additional spacing and larger fonts
- Using headlines/categories
- Using bold for important words
Some of these supports require someone to edit the text, such as using simple sentences and vocabulary. However, some of these modifications can be quickly done by anyone, such as increasing the amount of white space in text.
These techniques can also be a guideline for family members of people with aphasia. For instance, if they are looking for a newspaper to read, they can select one that includes many pictures and sections arranged by topic. These are also good guidelines for writing text to a person with aphasia. If you are writing an e-mail to someone with aphasia, you can use these techniques to make your e-mail more “aphasia-friendly.”
With these supports, people with aphasia will have an easier time reading and understanding text.