Martine M. Smith & Isobel Connolly
Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Purpose. The study described here explores the perspectives of adults who use augmentative and alternative communication in relation to their use of aided communication. The aims were to describe the supports available to adults using aided communication, their views on the role(s) they assigned to aided communication within their total communication systems and the factors they identified as affecting their use of aided communication.
Method. Eighteen adults with cerebral palsy who use aided communication were surveyed using questionnaire-based interviews exploring the range of services available to them and the relevance, importance and meaning they assigned to communication devices.
Results. Overall, participants expressed positive views about aided communication. Although all identified many unaided modes of communication as being important, most participants ranked aided communication among their primary modes. Use of aided communication was reported to be influenced by communication partners, but also by device features, with major concerns about reliability emerging.
Conclusions. Factors affecting the integration of aided communication are complex. For many adults, lack of key supports, including availability of communication partners restrict the contexts and extent to which aided communication is used. The comments from the participants highlight the need to develop services for adults who use aided communication.