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Qualitative methodologies and mixed method designs as a means of increasing participation for AAC users

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Qualitative research and mixed methods designs are valuable tools in the field of AAC assessment and treatment research. The nature of qualitative research allows the study of complex social and environmental phenomena (Damico & Simmons-Mackie, 2003). The use of such methodologies is likely useful in moving the use and assessment patterns of AAC users forward. However, these methodologies are generally ignored by the scientific community and more specifically in the field of speech-language pathology (Hammer, 2011). This presentation will describe qualitative methods of investigation and frame them in terms of a qualitative/quantitative systematic review of the literature in AAC assessment. The methods employed by the authors combined forms of ethnography, which evaluates a group from their perspective by analyzing behaviors and customs, and employed a systematic review of empirical and authoritative sources. We have proposed that such an analysis of expert clinicians and the literature can inform the practice of general speech-language pathologists. Qualitative analysis has been used successfully in social science to understand the behaviors of groups and may be useful in moving AAC interventions and participation forward beyond quantitative findings. Qualitative research offers a deeper analysis of why clinician and client behaviors occur. The complexities of AAC use include assessment, treatment, social factors, individual AAC user belief and value systems, support systems, and local resources. These numerous and complex factors make the study of AAC a perfect match for the use of qualitative research methodologies.


Kristy Weissling    
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
United States

Wendy Quach    
San Jose State University
United States

Miechelle McKelvey    
University of Nebraska-Kearney
United States

Shelley Lund    
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
United States


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