The use of communication boards in a residential setting


This study examines the use of communication boards by seven nonspeaking, nonambulatory, severely mentally retarded students (all functioning at an early preoperational level cognitively) interacting with their teachers in a residential classroom setting. The authors present a method by which the spontaneous use of communication boards can be assessed as to actual functionality in meeting the students' communicative needs. The students' reliance on and success with their communication boards were analyzed relative to nonboard modes (e.g., gestures and vocalizations). Analysis of videotaped nonspeaking student-teacher interactions revealed that these students rarely used their communication boards despite their severe inability to convey messages by any other means. Use of the communication boards rather than alternate modes neither increased the likelihood of success nor decreased the ambiguity of student messages. Communication boards thus appeared to add little to the communicative competence of these students in interacting with their teachers. These findings are discussed in terms of the need to assess nonspeaking persons' use of augmentative systems outside the speech-language pathology setting, in order to begin to identify, explain, and treat communication breakdowns arising from interactions between nonspeaking persons and those with whom they attempt to interact in their daily living experiences.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

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Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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