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Challenges of Outcome Measurement for Short-Term AAC Loan Services

  • Tom Griffiths
  • Katie Price
  • Michael Clarke

We present here a discussion paper based on our thinking around the selection and implementation of a system of outcome measures for our service's loan library. The Communication, Learning and Technology (CLT) service offers specialist assessment and intervention advice for children whose communication and access to the curriculum may be constrained by motor and learning impairments. Children are seen by a multi-disciplinary team and, when the family or local team's questions focus on selection of AAC equipment, they are offered access to the service's loan library, from which AAC equipment can be borrowed for periods of up to three months. Loans are arranged in conjunction with local teams, and targets are set to help evaluate the usefulness of a device.

This discussion paper will include a review describing the various outcome measures used for AAC outcomes generally. We will then discuss the published and ad-hoc evaluations trialled in our service and review outcome measures relevant to short-term evaluation of potential value of the device trialled. The session will also offer time for discussion, during which we will offer attendees the opportunity to share their own experiences of selecting and implementing outcome measures specifically targeted at the evaluation of short-term loan.


We will describe our trials of goal attainment scaling for a pilot group of 20 children with autism and with cerebral palsy. We will also present our findings from 20 subsequent loan episodes, with outcomes of purchase by local teams following the loan evaluation.


AAC outcome measures in general use may not be suitable as outcomes for three month loan periods. Establishing potential use of devices, even after three months, may not be easy, but has been reported by commissioners and funders as useful. Recommendations made by the service are generally taken up by Education Authorities.


We will be interested to hear participants' views on the outcome measures we present, and how these are likely to develop in the future if AAC services move more to health-based outcomes.

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