The role of color cues in facilitating accurate and rapid location of aided symbols by children with and without down syndrome

Krista Wilkinson, Michael Carlin, Jennifer Thistle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Purpose: This research examined how the color distribution of symbols within a visual aided augmentative and alternative communication array influenced the speed and accuracy with which participants with and without Down syndrome located a target picture symbol. Method: Eight typically developing children below the age of 4 years, 8 typically developing children over the age of 4 years, and 10 children with Down syndrome participated. Participants were asked to find a target line drawing among an array of 12. Line drawings represented either foods (e.g., grapes, cherries), clothing (e.g., a red shirt, a yellow shirt), or activities (e.g., soccer, swimming). In one condition, symbols that shared a color were clustered together, creating a subgroup within which to search. In another condition, symbols that shared a color were distributed across the display, allowing each to appear individually. Dependent measures were accuracy and speed of finding the target symbol. Results: Clustering same-color symbols facilitated the speed of locating the target for all participants, and facilitated search accuracy in the younger preschool children and participants with Down syndrome. These effects held when targets were foods, clothing, or activities. Conclusion: Clinicians should consider the internal color of visual symbols when constructing aided symbol displays, at least for children with Down syndrome. Further research is needed on a number of dimensions, however, including visual processing in other etiological categories, the role of background color, and the relation of color to other stimulus dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-193
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of color cues in facilitating accurate and rapid location of aided symbols by children with and without down syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this