Experiences of adults with complex communication needs receiving and using low tech AAC: an Australian context Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: We explored the experiences of adults who received aids through the Non-Electronic Communication Aids Scheme (NECAS). METHODS: Fifteen adults aged 21-74 years, with complex communication needs (nine males) associated with developmental (n = 10) or acquired disabilities (n = 5) who received NECAS aids, and 12 support people participated. Interviews provided data for thematic analysis. RESULTS: Participants used multi-modalities, reflecting that there is more than one way to communicate, but differed in using their augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) aids according to time and place. How NECAS and other forms of AAC, including electronic devices, were meeting communication needs varied, and reviewing needs was needed. Participants reported being empowered through reducing frustration, increasing independence and facilitating relationships. There were varied preferences for low versus high tech, according to speed of communication and tolerance for breakdowns. They differed in being concerned about what other people think when aids were used in the community, and reactions and attitudes of others. Owning the process emerged through varying degrees of participation in developing and updating their NECAS and other aids. CONCLUSIONS: The results are discussed in terms of the benefits of multimodal options, consumer-desired outcomes in research into the effectiveness of AAC and need for ongoing supports. Implications for Rehabilitation AAC includes both high (assistive)-technology and low-technology options. In order to implement best practice, AAC provision of low- and/or high-tech options must be driven by individual needs rather than service limitations. In this qualitative study, the benefits of access to various low- and high-tech AAC options to address needs and preferences are demonstrated.

publication date

  • September 2013