Teaching Partner-Focused Questions to Individuals Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication to Enhance Their Communicative Competence A single-subject, multiple-probe experimental design was used to investigate the effect of instruction on the acquisition, generalization, and long-term maintenance of partner-focused questions (i.e., questions about communication partners and their experiences) by individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Six participants who had severe speech impairments and used AAC ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 1999
Teaching Partner-Focused Questions to Individuals Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication to Enhance Their Communicative Competence
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Janice C. Light
    Department of Communication Disorders The Pennsylvania State University University Park
  • Cathy Binger
    Department of Communication Disorders The Pennsylvania State University University Park
  • Tracy L. Agate
    Department of Communication Disorders The Pennsylvania State University University Park
  • Karen N. Ramsay
    Department of Communication Disorders The Pennsylvania State University University Park
  • Contact author: Janice Light, PhD, Department of Communication Disorders, Penn State University, 217 Moore Building, University Park, PA 16802
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 1999
Teaching Partner-Focused Questions to Individuals Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication to Enhance Their Communicative Competence
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1999, Vol. 42, 241-255. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4201.241
History: Received July 29, 1997 , Accepted May 4, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1999, Vol. 42, 241-255. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4201.241
History: Received July 29, 1997; Accepted May 4, 1998

A single-subject, multiple-probe experimental design was used to investigate the effect of instruction on the acquisition, generalization, and long-term maintenance of partner-focused questions (i.e., questions about communication partners and their experiences) by individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Six participants who had severe speech impairments and used AAC participated in the study; they ranged in age from 10 to 44 years, had a variety of disabilities, and used a range of AAC systems. Instruction used a least-to-most prompting hierarchy in real-world interactions and during simulations. All of the participants successfully learned to ask partner-focused questions spontaneously in social interactions; they required an average of approximately 6 hours of instruction (range: 3–11 hours). The participants generalized the use of partnerfocused questions to new situations in the natural environment and maintained use of partner-focused questions at least 2 months postinstruction; one participant required some "booster" instructional sessions 4 weeks postinstruction to maintain her long-term use of partner-focused questions. The participants all reported high levels of satisfaction with the outcomes of the instructional program, as did their facilitators. Members of the general public, blind to the goals of the study, judged the majority of the participants to be more competent communicators after instruction.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Grant #HO23N20010 from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs and Rehabilitative Services. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Education and no official endorsement should be inferred. The names of all participants in the study have been changed to protect confidentiality.
We are indebted to the individuals who use AAC who participated in this study and to their facilitators. We are also grateful to the instructors who assisted in this study: Kevin Cohen, Linda Denslinger, Nina Greiner, Jolene Peterson, and Betty Stoltz. All of these individuals willingly gave of their time and energy to help advance our understanding of the development of communicative competence by individuals who use AAC. We also wish to thank David Beukelman who served as a mentor on this project as well as those who served on the Advisory Panel: Sarah Blackstone, Pat Mirenda, Michael Williams, and Robert Williams.
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