Borg S, Agius M,
Studies in Health Technology and Informatics
This qualitative case study describes a 9-year-old child, diagnosed with homonymous hemianopia, left side weakness and seizures that has been followed by Access to Communication and Technology Unit in Malta for 5 years. The child previously used a communication book and now uses an iPad as a speech generating device. A semi-structured interview was utilised with the parent to explore preference for each AAC system and the reasons for it. The impact of each AAC system on the family and on the child's communication skills, and perceived barriers in the implementation of the AACs were also explored. The child's own experience using the AAC systems was also investigated using a structured interview format. Talking Mats was used to support the child's understanding of the questions and to explore her perspectives on the two AAC systems using Yes-No responses. The parent interview was analysed thematically and represented visually using a thematic network. This was compared with child responses. Four organising themes emerged including barriers, benefits, facilitators, and expectations. Specific barriers included self-funding in order to provide the child with the best fit high-tech AAC. Perceived benefits for both AAC systems were that it increased her communicative intent. The child's mother perceived access to increased vocabulary and capacity for sentence building, operational autonomy as well as voice output as a benefit of the SGD. The child's results indicated a preference for the high-tech AAC because she found it easier to navigate than the low-tech AAC.