Eye tracking research to answer questions about augmentative and alternative communication assessment and intervention

Krista M. Wilkinson, Teresa Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Recently, eye tracking technologies (i.e., technologies that automatically track the point of an individual's gaze while that person views or interacts with a visual image) have become available for research purposes. Based on the sampling of the orientation of the individual's eyes, researchers can quantify which locations within the visual image were fixated (viewed), for how long, and how many times. These automated eye tracking research technologies open up a wealth of avenues for investigating how individuals with developmental or acquired communication disabilities may respond to aided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. In this paper, we introduce basic terminology and explore some of the special challenges of conducting eye tracking research with populations with disabilities who might use AAC, including challenges of inferring attention from the presence of fixation and challenges related to calibration that may result from participant characteristics, behavioral idiosyncracies, and/or the number of calibration points. We also examine how the technology can be applied to ask well-structured experimental questions that have direct clinical relevance, with a focus on the unique contributions that eye tracking research can provide by (a) allowing evaluation of skills in individuals who are difficult to assess via traditional methods, and (b) facilitating access to information on underlying visual cognitive processes that is not accessible via traditional behavioral measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-119
Number of pages14
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing


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