Mobile Media Devices and Communication Applications as a Form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication: An Assessment of Family Wants, Needs, and Preferences
University of Kansas
Intercampus Program in Communicative Disorders
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This study assessed the wants, needs, and preferences of families at various stages of the decision-making process relative to mobile media technology as a form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). A survey entitled "iDevices, AAC, and Families: A Survey of Needs" was hosted online. Families' participation was solicited with help from organizations that support individuals with communication disabilities at national, state, and local levels. A total of 64 parents and caregivers responded to the survey and provided information about supporting their child using an iDevice and communication application(s) as an AAC system. The data revealed that the majority of families want information and support from professionals throughout the decision-making process. In particular, families wanted information about how to use the AAC device and the support of professionals knowledgeable about AAC. The families reported ease of use and affordability as the two most influential characteristics in the purchase of both iDevices and communication applications, and they wanted support to help the AAC device meet their child's individual needs. Families cited speech-language pathologists as the professional preferred to support both their child and themselves. Clinical implications for speech-language pathologists who support children who use AAC and their families include the need to embrace and recognize their role as speech-language pathologists in the consumer access model for mobile media AAC technology. This includes providing knowledge and support during and before and after the families' purchase. There is a need for professionals to keep family priorities in mind, which often include ease of use and affordability, while also focusing on device feature matching to meet the child's communication needs. Speech-language pathologists are encouraged to actively participate in mobile media AAC technology assessment and intervention.
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