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Listening to different voices in families using AAC

Research Stream
  • Deborah Pugh (Northamptonshire NHS Healthcare Foundation Trust)

The presentation will discuss a small scale study exploring the experiences of twelve families using AAC systems. The families used a variety of AAC systems ranging from communication books and Picture Exchange Communication system (PECs) to high-tech voice output communication aids. The research involved understanding the different perspectives of the 'whole' family including the parents, young person with complex communication needs, and their siblings.


A variety of qualitative methods were used including: in-depth interviewing; a draw and tell approach for younger children; and Talking Mats, a framework to allow young people with complex communication needs to express their opinions. The research used a social constructivist grounded theory methodology with the aim of understanding how families experience using AAC in the home.


The early findings have identified a number of key themes showing how families implement and sustain the use of AAC systems within the home.


The findings from this study add new knowledge and identify the issues and challenges that impact on families who use augmentative and alternative communication systems.

Level of Session 
Age Group 
All Ages
Primary school
Secondary school
Special school