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Just-in-time programming of AAC apps for children with complex communication needs

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The programming of many AAC technologies/ apps is so time consuming that it is difficult for parents and professionals to find time to add vocabulary to their children’s AAC systems. Furthermore, this programming is often so complicated that it has to be completed offline away from daily interactions. As a result, children who use AAC technologies /apps often do not have the vocabulary that they require within their daily interactions as the need and interest arises; they are restricted in their language development. This session will present the results of a series of research studies designed to investigate the viability of just-in-time (JIT) programming of vocabulary with AAC apps during interactions with children and ultimately to investigate the effects of an AAC app that supports JIT programming on the communication of young children with complex communication needs. Results of these studies demonstrated the viability of JIT programming by professionals with no prior experience. Furthermore, children with CCN demonstrated significant gains in the frequency of communication turns and the number of concepts that they communicated with access to apps that supported JIT programming. The children remained highly engaged during JIT programming and contributed actively to the process, thus exerting greater control over their vocabulary selection and system design. This session will present the rationale for JIT programming, discuss the results of each of these research studies, and use videos of case examples to illustrate the implications for practice to enhance the language and communication development with young children with CCN.


Janice Light    
Penn State University
United States

Jessica Gosnell Caron    
Penn State University

Jessica Currall    
Penn State University

Clark Knudtson    
Penn State University

Merissa Ekman    
Penn State University

Christine Holyfield    
Penn State University

Beth Breakstone    
Penn State University

Kathryn Drager    
Penn State University


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