I-ASC: Identifying Appropriate Symbol Communication

Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated 09 May 2019

The frequently asked questions listed below are drawn from presentations and seminars given by the I-ASC team

What age range did you consider in the research?

The AAC users who participated in the study were from 4 years old up to adults of 36 years. While we were primarily focused on children, we also wanted to include the communication aid assessment experiences of adults who had used AAC as children.

Is the study relevant to adults with learning disability?

The study included children and adults with a wide range of abilities and challenges who use AAC. Both the findings and resources are relevant for children who may benefit from AAC or young people who have grown up using AAC. The resources may also be useful with other groups of people who may benefit from AAC.

What does ‘language representation’ mean?

Language representation refers to the type of symbols used in the communication system. Symbols used may include photo symbols, graphic symbols such as Picture Communication Symbols, Widgit symbols or Blissymbols or traditional orthography (text).

In the explanatory model, does the size of the cogs say something about the relative importance of that aspect?

Yes, the size of the cogs is used to illustrate the salience of that theme in the data so child characteristics are fore fronted in the decision making in the competing considerations section.

Did you think about using the surveys with families and with people who use AAC rather than just professionals?

The survey methodology used meant that respondents had to have experience of a range of AAC users with different abilities and challenges. As a result, it was not possible to include families or people who use AAC who have expert knowledge on their own situation or professionals with a little experience working in AAC. The benefits of the mixed methods participative approach taken in I-ASC was that we were able to ensure the views of AAC users and families were heard in other aspects of the research and through our co-researcher involvement.

How did you choose the attributes for the Discrete Choice Trial experiment?

We drew on the literature reviews, co-researcher and clinical researcher expertise and the themes arising in the focus groups and interviews. We developed an extensive attribute list that we shortened through iterative team discussions. A list of 19 child attributes and 18 communication aid attributes. We then used the best worst scaling survey to identify the attributes that were most important to professionals and the results of this survey and the overall research questions were used to select the attributes used in the discrete choice trial experiment.

When will we be able to access these stories for children?

The storybooks are available for download now from the Resources section of this website.

How long did it take to prepare for the Talking Mats activities to ask AAC users their views?

Time was taken to talk with the family and relevant team members. Symbols were prepared to suit individual AAC users. As the interviews progressed, we drew on previously developed resources so we became quicker over time. Again, it is not possible to given estimates as it was tailored to each child but the preparation was important to ensure AAC users could express their views.

How long did the activities using a Talking Mats approach typically take? If a service was to introduce this, How long would you estimate it might take?

This approach did take some time to allow participants the opportunity to share their views. However, it proved a really useful tool as some staff members were surprised with the opinions the AAC User was able to make during the interviews.  Given the varied time needed for each AAC user to engage with and participate in this task, it is not possible to give time estimates however our interviews took up to an hour (across two sessions).

Our explanatory model showed that professionals considered many different factors in their decision making and there were different reasons why they might prioritise particular factors in choosing devices or systems. Sometimes, the vocabulary was very important, other times professionals chose systems that were familiar as they had benefits in terms of ease of support and implementation. More is available in the heuristic about how professionals and families make decisions.

Do you have recommendations of how the spidergram could be used via email/phone/skype with families?

We have developed the spidergram resource and it is available to download from the resources page. The spidergram could be adapted to be used remotely but the team would need to ensure that those completing it remotely have all the information they need to do so.