Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Peggy Locke

Abstract

Augmentative-alternative communication (AAC) systems are used to give voice to individuals who are nonverbal. As AAC systems become more complex and prevalent in the classroom expectations of school-based professionals expand. However, the roles of those expected to support AAC systems, primarily teachers and speech-language pathologists (SLPs), are not clearly defined. Without clearly defined roles, professionals may not provide needed support to students who use AAC. Dewey's theory of community suggests that role confusion leads to insufficient and ineffective services. The purpose of this cross-sectional quantitative study was to determine how teachers and SLPs view their roles in supporting AAC. The key research question examined associations linking the instructional role of the individual to perceptions of who is responsible for implementing and supporting AAC in the classroom. An Internet-based survey, consisting of 21 questions set on a categorical scale, was sent to teachers and SLPs who are members of a technology advocacy and support center located in a mid Atlantic US state. Responses collected through the survey site were analyzed using a chi squared test. Overall findings indicated that the teacher was perceived as primarily responsible to provide support within the classroom; SLPs provided additional support outside of the classroom, such as creation of overlays and vocabulary selection. Assistive technology coordinators also provided support in terms of obtaining the AAC system. In general, leadership changed as support tasks changed. Results of the survey may aid in the development of guidance to support teachers and SLPs working with students who use AAC in the classroom. Improving services for students with AAC needs supports social change by enabling them to use their voice and become more independent.