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Consumer Wireless Technology Use by Adults Who Use AAC

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Cellphones, smartphones and tablets offer considerable potential to enhance the independence and social and economic participation of people with disabilities. In addition, the rapid proliferation of smartphones and tablets has offered new low-cost speech generating options on mainstream platforms for users of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. Data are presented from the 2015 Survey of User Needs (SUN), a national survey in the United States conducted by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC) on use of mobile wireless technology by people across several disability types. The wireless experiences and needs of AAC users are described.

A total of 41 adults who use AAC completed the questionnaire. Only 65.9% of respondents who use AAC reported owning or using a wireless device (basic cellphone, smartphone, or tablet). Despite the fact that almost 80% of the respondents note that it was important to be able to conduct a phone conversation using their AAC technology and their mobile device, more than 50% noted that they could not independently make a phone call.

Strategies to address the barriers identified in the use of mainstream wireless technologies will be presented based on the findings of this national study. These include using the emerging accessibility features that are increasingly available on mainstream wireless technologies.


Diane Nelson Bryen    
Temple University & University of Pretoria
United States

John Morris    
Shepherd Center
United States


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