Children's ideas for the design of AAC assistive technologies for young children with complex comminucation needs

Janice Light, Rebecca Page, Jennifer Curran, Laura Pitkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


This study examined children's preferences and priorities for the design of assistive technologies to enhance communication for children with complex communication needs. Six children without disabilities were provided with drawing and craft materials and were asked to develop low-tech prototypes of inventions to support the communication of a young child who had significant speech and motor impairments. The design process and the inventions were analyzed using qualitative methods. Results showed that the children's inventions differed significantly from the designs of current AAC technologies. Their inventions were not simply speech prostheses; rather, they integrated multiple functions (e.g., communication, social interaction, companionship, play, artistic expression, telecommunications) and provided dynamic contexts to support social interactions with others, especially peers. The children characterized the systems as companions and utilized innovative names, bright colors, lights, transformable shapes, popular themes, humor, and amazing accomplishments to capture interest, enhance appeal, build self-esteem, and establish a positive social image. The systems were easily personalized to reflect the user's age, personality, attitude, interests, and preferences. Re-designing AAC technologies to incorporate these types of functions and features may increase their appeal and make them easier for young children to learn and use. Results are discussed with reference to implications for future research and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-287
Number of pages14
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing


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