Authors: Holyfield C, Brooks S, Schluterman A
Title: Comparative Effects of High-Tech Visual Scene Displays and Low-Tech Isolated Picture Symbols on Engagement from Students with Multiple Disabilities
Source: Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 2019 50(4): 693-702
Year: 2019
Research Design: Single Case Design

Purpose: Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an intervention approach that can promote communication and language in children with multiple disabilities who are beginning communicators. While a wide range of AAC technologies are available, little is known about the comparative effects of specific technology options. Given that engagement can be low for beginning communicators with multiple disabilities, the current study provides initial information about the comparative effects of 2 AAC technology options--high-tech visual scene displays (VSDs) and low-tech isolated picture symbols--on engagement. Method: Three elementary-age beginning communicators with multiple disabilities participated. The study used a single-subject, alternating treatment design with each technology serving as a condition. Participants interacted with their school speech-language pathologists using each of the 2 technologies across 5 sessions in a block randomized order. Results: According to visual analysis and nonoverlap of all pairs calculations, all 3 participants demonstrated more engagement with the high-tech VSDs than the low-tech isolated picture symbols as measured by their seconds of gaze toward each technology option. Despite the difference in engagement observed, there was no clear difference across the 2 conditions in engagement toward the communication partner or use of the AAC. Conclusions: Clinicians can consider measuring engagement when evaluating AAC technology options for children with multiple disabilities and should consider evaluating high-tech VSDs as 1 technology option for them. Future research must explore the extent to which differences in engagement to particular AAC technologies result in differences in communication and language learning over time as might be expected.

Access: Paywall