This paper presents the results of a study that aimed to investigate the communication needs of people with dysarthria and the potential role of voice output communication aids (VOCAs) within this population.
People with dysarthria who use VOCAs and those who have chosen not to use VOCAs were interviewed. In addition, as a reference point, expert VOCA users who have no intelligible speech were also interviewed.
Participants discussed the role of a VOCA and the context in which it was used, as well as the day to day considerations around the use of a VOCA (considerations which were grounded in the use of other communication methods).
In general, expert users carefully considered when to use the device according to the situation. Specific communicative environments were considered relevant to the choice to use or not use a VOCA; specific communication partners were also discussed as a factor in the decision-making. Some participants with dysarthria who rejected the use of a VOCA, also identified situations of potential use; they cited the gap between their expectation of VOCA use and either technology or service delivery as the reasons why this potential was not being realised.