Speech-Language pathologists’ decisions when designing an aided AAC display for a compilation case study of a beginning communicator

Jennifer J. Thistle, Krista M. Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The current study sought to identify decisions speech-language pathologists (SLPs) make and their rationale for those decisions when designing an AAC display for a hypothetical school-aged child who was a beginning communicator. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) displays support communicative interactions for children who are unable to use spoken language to meet their communication needs. Children who are at the early stages of learning language, often termed beginning or emerging communicators, may rely heavily on the AAC display to support comprehension and expression. Thus, it is important for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to design a display that facilitates beginning communicators’ communication development. Methods: This paper reports on the answers related to a specific case study presented in an online survey completed by 77 SLPs with experience in AAC. Results: Data illustrated design decisions driven by child-specific characteristics and informed by research regarding type of layout, representation, and the importance of various design features. Conclusions: Suggestions for future research are provided, including identifying goals and communicative functions best supported by different types of displays, clinicians’ challenges/successes growing a system with the child, and determining the importance of symbol arrangement and organisation in communicative tasks by AAC users.Implications for Rehabilitation Identification of current practices reported by speech-language pathologists given a case study to develop and implement future research. A gap between research and practice suggests the need for better dissemination and application of research supporting the inclusion of people engaged in the event depicted in a visual scene display. Foundations for future research to provide guidance regarding best design of and communication goals supported by visual scene displays and grid-based displays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-879
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing


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