Authors: Bartlett MR, Fink RB, Schwartz MF, Linebarger M
Title: Informativeness ratings of messages created on an AAC processing prosthesis
Source: Aphasiology 2007 21(5): 475-498
Year: 2007
Research Design: Case Series

BACKGROUND: SentenceShaper[TM] (SSR) is a computer program that supports spoken language production in aphasia by recording and storing the fragments that the user speaks into the microphone, making them available for playback and allowing them to be combined and integrated into larger structures (i.e., sentences and narratives). A prior study that measured utterance length and grammatical complexity in story-plot narratives produced with and without the aid of SentenceShaper demonstrated an "aided effect" in some speakers with aphasia, meaning an advantage for the narratives that were produced with the support of this communication aid (Linebarger, Schwartz, Romania, Kohn, and Stephens, 2000). The present study deviated from Linebarger et al.'s methods in key respects and again showed aided effects of SentenceShaper in persons with aphasia.AIMS: Aims were (1) to demonstrate aided effects in "functional narratives" conveying hypothetical real-life situations from a first person perspective; (2) for the first time, to submit aided and spontaneous speech samples to listener judgements of informativeness; and (3) to produce preliminary evidence on topic-specific carryover from SentenceShaper, i.e., carryover from an aided production to a subsequent unaided production on the same topic. METHODS and PROCEDURES: Five individuals with chronic aphasia created narratives on two topics, under three conditions: Unaided (U), Aided (SSR), and Post-SSR Unaided (Post-U). The 30 samples (5 participants, 2 topics, 3 conditions) were randomised and judged for informativeness by graduate students in speech-language pathology. The method for rating was Direct Magnitude Estimation (DME). OUTCOMES and RESULTS: Repeated measures ANOVAs were performed on DME ratings for each participant on each topic. A main effect of Condition was present for four of the five participants, on one or both topics. Planned contrasts revealed that the aided effect (SSR > U) was significant in each of these cases. For two participants, there was also topic-specific carryover (Post-U > U). CONCLUSIONS: Listeners judged functional narratives generated on SentenceShaper to be more informative than comparable narratives spoken spontaneously. This extends the evidence for aided effects of SentenceShaper. There was also evidence, albeit weaker, for topic-specific carryover, suggesting that the program might be used effectively to practise for upcoming face-to-face interactions.

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