Here is the abstract from Catherine Morrison’s final year research project, supervised by Dr Carolyn Letts and Kate Laws.
Enablers and barriers to the use of high-tech AAC in the specialist classroom
Numerous factors interact with alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) use in the specialist classroom. Despite this, there are no studies known to the researcher in the UK which consider the enablers and barriers to high-tech AAC in this setting. This project specifically aims to discover the enablers and barriers to communication via high-tech AAC in the specialist classroom. Qualitative methods of five classroom observations and thirteen interviews with speech and language therapists, teachers and learning support assistants were used to gather data. Thematic analysis was conducted to reveal key enablers and barriers to high-tech AAC use. A wide range of factors were identified under the themes of those relating high-tech AAC use and the student’s capabilities, external factors and the attitudes of staff/students. Factors, including communication partner behaviour, vocabulary on the device and perception of purpose of the device, were perceived as enablers and barriers, varying between classroom situations. Implications include that considering the potential enablers and barriers to use should be part of the assessment process during high-tech AAC provision. Once barriers are identified strategies to minimise the impact of these if possible, should be incorporated into interventions used so students are encouraged to reach their communicative potential.
Key words: Qualitative Data analysis, Alternative and augmentative communication