The current generation of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technologies is largely based on conceptual models of adults who are not disabled (J. Light & P. Lindsay, 1991). As a result, there is a large "cost of learning" placed on young children. This paper presents the results of a study designed to investigate the learning demands of dynamic display systems that differed in system layout and language organization for children approximately 2 1/2 years old (2 years 5 months to 2 years 11 months). Thirty typically developing children were asked to locate 12 vocabulary items within a play context of a birthday party. Ten children were randomly assigned to each of 3 system approaches: vocabulary in a grid format organized taxonomically, vocabulary in a grid format organized schematically, and vocabulary in an integrated scene organized schematically. The children participated in 4 learning and testing sessions and 1 generalization session. Results indicated that the children performed poorly in all conditions but were able to locate more vocabulary items in the schematic scene condition than the taxonomic grid or schematic grid conditions. There was evidence that the children failed to generalize their knowledge of the vocabulary to facilitate learning of novel vocabulary items. The current design of AAC dynamic display systems appears to be inappropriate for very young children. Rather than relying solely on technology for these young children, early intervention should target multiple modes of communication. AAC technologies should be redesigned to reduce learning demands. Results are discussed with implications for practice and suggestions for future research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing