What is Speech-Language Impairment (SLI)?
Speech-language impairment is a Department of Education, Training and Employment category for identifying students requiring significant educational adjustments as a result of having a severe ongoing primary spoken communication disorder.
Students with speech-language impairment, like all students, vary in abilities and needs. They will all, however, experience significant difficulties in some or all of the following areas:
- Language production: Communicating a message using words or symbols or signs from our memory (or internal communication system) and following the rules for combining them and using them in particular contexts.
- Language processing: Understanding a message after it has been received by recognising the concepts and ideas, the words or symbols or signs used, and the sequences and contexts in which these have been used.
- Speech production: Talking by making the sounds of our language by coordinating breathing and voice with movement of the jaw, lips, cheeks and tongue in different positions.
- Speech processing: Recognising important features of the sound of someone talking.
- Language use: This refers to producing language that is appropriate to the context and also to interpreting (understanding) language according to the context. Language use is sometimes referred to as 'pragmatics', and is often included as part of language production and also a part of language processing.
Students require effective spoken communication skills to participate in education programs and achieve at school. Students with mild to moderate difficulties in any of the above areas do not meet the criteria for the department's disability category of speech-language impairment but are considered to be a student with special needs in communication and may access other school-based support including teacher aide assistance and speech-language therapy services (Department of Education and Training, 2010).
^ Top of page
This page was last reviewed on 16 Jul 2012