Purpose: Many aided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems require the use of an external display that is represented via a visual modality. It is critical to evaluate and understand visual–perceptual processing in individuals with disabilities who could benefit from AAC. One way to evaluate how individuals process visual materials is through research-based automated eyetracking technologies that obtain a fine-grained stream of data concerning gaze paths of visual attention. Method: The current study examined how individuals with autism spectrum disorder (n = 13), Down syndrome (n = 13), intellectual and developmental disabilities (n = 9), or typical development (n = 20) responded to a spoken prompt to find a thumbnail-sized navigation key within a complex AAC display, including a main visual scene display (VSD) and a navigation bar of four thumbnail-sized VSDs. Stimuli were presented on a monitor containing automated eye-tracking research technology that recorded patterns of visual attention. Results: Participants across groups spent more time fixating on a target thumbnail VSD navigation image after the presentation of the spoken cue to look at the target, compared to before the presentation of the spoken cue; they also spent more time looking at the target thumbnail VSD than the other thumbnail-sized VSDs in the navigation bar after the cue. Discussion: Participants were able to locate the target thumbnail VSDs, even within the context of a visually complex AAC display. Implications for the design of AAC displays and for assessment of comprehension are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing