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Training Communication Partners of Adults who use AAC: Finding the evidence

Practice Report
  • Bettina Arenstein (NSW Speech Pathology Evidence Based Practise Network - Australia)
  • Nicole Lipson

To inform about the NSW Speech Pathology Evidence Based Practise (EBP) Network (Australia) and the process of finding the evidence to support best practise in training communication partners of people who use AAC. To provide information on how to evaluate training and training techniques that are evidence based in their efficacy.


The AAC EBP group explored the clinical question: "In adults with disability, what forms of communication partner training are effective in facilitating communication using an AAC system?". The Kirkpatrick Model was used to rate the evaluation of training described in the articles. Articles were selected that evaluated changes in the communication partners behaviour and changes in how the AAC user communicated.


Strategies that showed evidence of training communication partners to facilitate communication in AAC users included: the use of video illustration and feedback, coaching, action planning, training on making AAC, person-centred approaches and delivering training in a naturalistic setting. Evaluation tools included observations, video recordings, knowledge and skills tests and self ratings on behaviour changes.


Training communication partners can result in behaviour change and improvements in the AAC users communication. Changes in AAC users communication as a training outcome is best evaluated at Kirkpatrick level 4. Barriers exist in maintaining skills.

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