Children whose speech does not meet their communication needs often benefit from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The design of an AAC display may influence the child’s ability to communicate effectively. The current study examined how symbol background color cues and symbol arrangement affected construction of multi-symbol messages using line-drawing symbols, by young children with typical development. Participants (N = 52) heard a spoken phrase matching a photograph and selected line drawings within a 4 × 4 array. Friedman two-way ANOVAs evaluated speed and accuracy of multi-symbol message construction under four conditions in which the background color and arrangement of symbols was manipulated. Participants demonstrated significantly faster response times when symbols were arranged by word-class category compared to no symbol arrangement. The majority of children responded faster when symbols had white backgrounds, but this effect failed to reach statistical significance. This study provides preliminary evidence suggesting the importance of symbol arrangement for young children. The findings highlight the need for caution when incorporating background color on displays for young children. Future research is needed to examine the effect of visual cues on children who use AAC and consider additional factors that could influence efficacy of symbol arrangement and background color use.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Speech and Hearing