You are here

How Adults with Severe Acquired Communication Difficulties Make Decisions about their Communication Methods

Research Stream
  • Helen Paterson (Royal Hospital for Neurodisability)

This is a paper to present the findings of qualitative research performed with a group of adults with acquired communication difficulties. The aim of the study was to explore how adults with severe acquired communication difficulties experience and make decisions about, the different communication methods they use


A qualitative study was performed, using a generic phenomenological approach. Data collection methods were face to face interviews and e-mail interviews. The sample was seven male participants, from a long-term care setting in a hospital who had been using AAC for at least six months. Interviews were video-recorded and transcribed. Data was analysed using guidance based on Colaizzi's phenomenological method of data analysis.The research formed part of an MSc in Assistive Technology from Coventry University.


Four main themes were identified: communicating in the digital age (email and social media); encountering frustrations in using communication technologies; role and identity changes and the influences of communication technology; and seeking a functional interaction using communication technologies.


Adults with acquired communication difficulties find digital communication (e.g. email and social media) and mainstream technologies (e.g. iPads) beneficial in communicating with others. Current communication technologies present a number of challenges for adults with disabilities and are limited in their communicative functions to support desired interactions. The findings have implications for AAC technology development, and for speech and language therapy service delivery.

Level of Session 
Age Group