Use of electronic communication to develop mentor-protégé relationships between adolescent and adult AAC users: Pilot study

Kevin J. Cohen, Janice C. Light

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Times of transition are often difficult for individuals with communication disabilities who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. Mentoring by more experienced partners has been embraced by both business and education as an effective means of easing transitions. Mentoring by experienced adults who use AAC seems to offer many potential benefits for adolescents and young adults who require AAC. The purpose of this exploratory study was to develop, implement, and conduct a preliminary evaluation of a small-scale mentor program for adolescents and young adults who use AAC in order to identify issues for further consideration and research. In this study, four successful adult augmentative communicators were recruited to serve as mentors for four individuals using AAC. All of the interactions that took place between the mentors and protégés occurred using electronic mail (e-mail). The e-mail messages for each dyad were analyzed to investigate the frequency and length of messages, the goals set and attained by protégés, and the topics discussed. Consumer satisfaction data and suggestions for future mentoring programs were collected at the end of the program. The results of this preliminary study suggest that mentoring by successful users of AAC may be effective in easing the transition of younger users of AAC. The results also suggest that training of mentors and carefully matching protégés and mentors may be important steps in developing effective mentoring programs. E-mail may serve as an effective medium for establishing a mentoring program for individuals who use AAC, provided that the participants have guidelines for expectations of frequency of message exchanges, reliable Internet service, and opportunities for additional methods of contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-238
Number of pages12
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing


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