Impact of the design of visual communication supports on social interaction by individuals with Down syndrome
Keywords:Developmental Disability, Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Many individuals with developmental disabilities have difficulty using speech as their primary method of communication. These individuals often use visual communication technologies that produce speech when symbols (letters, icons) are typed or selected. When an external aid is used to assist with message preparation, it is called aided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The current report illustrates how the design of AAC displays can influence both the efficiency of visual attention to the displays, and also the rate and flexibility of communication produced by three young adults with Down syndrome while using these displays. We designed three versions of AAC displays that prior laboratory research has indicated would influence efficiency of visual attention. These displays were then each used to support communication during a storybook reading interaction between individuals with Down syndrome and a trained communication partner. Visual attention was measured via mobile eye-tracking technologies, and communication behavior was recorded via video camera. Greater efficiency of visual attention and more frequent and flexible communication was observed when the AAC display was optimally designed. The results illustrate the value of eye-tracking technologies for examining communication behavior using AAC.
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Wilkinson, K. M., Liang, J., and Gilmore, R. (in preparation). Judicious arrangement of symbols on an AAC display optimizes visual attention and speed of responding by individuals with and without Down syndrome. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
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