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AAC services via mobile health technology applications: SLP and caregiver perceptions in rural South Africa.

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Introduction: Service delivery in rural areas is often inaccessible and limited, with a small cadre of dedicated professionals with unrealistically high workloads. Advancements in mobile technology (cell phones and tablets) have opened up new opportunities and environments for previously underserved populations, such as children with developmental disorders who have severe communication difficulties.

Aim: To describe the perceptions of speech-language pathologists (SLP’s) and primary caregivers of children with developmental disorders towards service delivery using a new caregiver-implemented mobile health technology (MHT) application that will integrate AAC intervention with daily caregiver implemented communication activities for the period between monthly visits to the SLP.

Method: Two focus groups with two distinct stakeholder groups from the same rural area were conducted: the first with SLP’s and the second with primary caregivers of children with developmental disabilities. The aim of these focus groups are to identify the possible advantages as well as expected challenges of using MHT in this context as well as to obtain suggestions for content that should be included in such an app.

Results: The strengths and limitations of MHT for rural service delivery will be discussed from the viewpoint of two different stakeholder groups as well as specific content for inclusion in such an application. The similarities and differences in opinion will be highlighted.

Conclusion: MHT, through the use of cell phones has great potential for service delivery to children with disabilities and their families in rural and underserved populations.


Juan Bornman    
University of Pretoria
South Africa

MaryAnn Romski    
Georgia State University
United States

Rose Sevcik    
Georgia State University
United States


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