AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

AAC: Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

Visual display shot 1visual display shot 2Visual Display shot 3visual display shot 4

This session foreshadows the influence that digital natives will have on the AAC systems and software systems we use in special education. Additionally, the research focus on clearing the unnecessary access challenges with traditional AAC systems is terrific. Seeing the presenter, Lacy Donofrio, speak about authoring her lessons in Flash was a moment I will mark in time. Our method of presentation will certainly change, as we are on the cusp of having very inexpensive displays and computing systems entering into our classrooms. The work of this team seemed to be one part brainstorm and one part research. It was terrific to see. What do you think will happen in special education over the next five years, as many more digital natives are at the helm of classrooms across the country? Here is the abstract from the presentation:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC):
Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation

Download the Handout Here

* Krista Wilkinson
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA
* John McCarthy
Ohio U, Athens, OH
* Lacey Donofrio
Ohio U, Athens, OH
* Janice C. Light
Pennsylvania St U, University Park, PA
* Michael Carlin
U of Massachusetts Med Sch, Waltham, MA
* Vinoth Jagaroo Ph.D.
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA
* Jennifer Thistle
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA

The speakers in this symposium will discuss how various physical characteristics of aided AAC displays might influence responding by children with or without disabilities. The first presentation examines whether PCS symbols that share a color are best arranged together (providing a subset within which to search) or distributed throughout a display (enhancing the salience of each symbol individually). The second presentation describes how animation can be exploited to facilitate scanning as an access method in visual scenes. The final presentation illustrates the utility of FLASH methodology for display construction. Clinical implications will be identified by the presenters and the discussant.

To me the most important component in this type of work is the connection to good teaching. Making good teaching and good learning more easy and prevalent is the goal. You could have a gold iPod that changed size to whatever you needed, but unless it has the good instructional concepts and tools, it is worthless. I liked the thought process of this group and definitely will look to see the work that comes from them in the future. : )

November 25, 2007 - Posted by | AAC, Access, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, Literacy, Special Education, Uncategorized


  1. […] AAC: Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation at ASHA […]

    Pingback by ASHA 2007 ALLTOGETHER LAUNCHER « All Together We Can Do Our Best | November 25, 2007 | Reply

  2. I think the key to digital technologies in learning is to try and experiment with multiple programs to see what individual students respond to based on their disability and learning style.

    On our website we provide a variety of visual learning options to teachers because we know that every student has different learning needs and a different level of experience with graphics and digital technology.

    Programs like Point to Pictures might be great for students with learning disabilities and Attention Getter might be a good program for kids with ADD or Autism, however other tools like Print Shop Deluxe or Inspiration might be more appropriate for students with more advanced skills with graphics and concept mapping tools.

    Comment by K. Greenhaw, EnableMart | January 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. I forgot to add that I would say the most important question to ponder as more teachers are digital natives in the classroom is not what digital tools and learning plans these teachers will implement in the near future but how each individual student will integrate their learning with new digital and assistive technologies as they too become digital natives.

    I know that my younger brother grew up with a much greater knowledge and capability of computer technology when he started school in the mid-1990’s than I did in the late-1980’s. I think this relationship of already being born into a high-tech world also applies in the special education classroom and is an important concept to consider when finding the best tools to use for each individual student.

    Comment by K. Greenhaw, EnableMart | January 7, 2008 | Reply

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