Augmentative and Alternative Communication Technologies

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Technologies

Carol (Heins) Gonzales (Carol (Heins) GonzalesClaremont Graduate University, USA), Gondy Leroy (Claremont Graduate University, USA) and Gianluca De Leo (Old Dominion University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-456-7.ch506
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Communication is a dynamic process that creates and conveys a mutual understanding between two or more people. Since this process is complex and not easily taught, there exist many communication disorders ranging from a physical limitation, such as ALS, to a cognitive language disorder, such as autism. Augmentative and alternative communication systems (AACs) help people with communication disorders by providing them substituted means for communicating. These systems range from non-technical solutions, such as a paper-based PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), to elaborate technical solutions, such as a plasma picture communication table. Due to the increased attention to AACs, the Worldwide Health Organization (WHO) provides a framework to evaluate effectiveness. Using this framework as a basis, the authors identified barriers and support factors for AAC effectiveness and subsequently best practices for AAC designs. They conclude with a case study of adapting a paper-based picture-based communication system to mobile devices using open-source software development for use by children with severe autism.
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Language and communication are social in nature. Communication functions as a means for making requests as well as interacting socially (Banzhoff & O'Connor, 2009). Successful participation in communication suggests that participants should feel equal in the interaction and have access to the same resources and attention. Communication should be synchronized so that each participant can respond in a timely manner. The partners should each feel comfortable communicating accurately and genuinely. Active participation also requires shared comprehension to produce and understand messages (Alant, et al., 2006).

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