Effects of an AAC feature on decoding and encoding skills of adults with Down syndrome

Christine Holyfield, Lauramarie Pope, Janice Light, Erik Jakobs, Emily Laubscher, David McNaughton, Olivia Pfaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Literacy skills can assist in the navigation and enjoyment of adult life. For individuals who have reached adulthood without strong literacy skills, opportunities for continued literacy learning are few. Redesigning AAC technologies to support literacy skill development could extend literacy learning opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities who have limited speech. The current preliminary study evaluated an AAC technology feature designed to support literacy development. The study used a multiple probe across participants design. Three adults with Down syndrome who had limited speech and only basic decoding skills participated. Results suggest the participants made modest gains in decoding accuracy after interacting using the AAC app with the literacy supportive feature, though performance was highly variable. Results also offer emerging evidence that, for two participants, some generalization to encoding performance may have also been achieved. Results showed that, for all the participants, interacting using the literacy supportive feature increased their reading confidence. Altogether, the study’s results show preliminary evidence that the feature can support adults with Down syndrome in their ongoing literacy learning, though access to formal instruction is still critical. Future research is needed to continue to explore this and other AAC technology redesigns to increase learning opportunities for the people who use the technology every day to communicate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-154
Number of pages15
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing

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