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Applying Cultural-Historical Activity Theory when Analysing Augmentative and Alternative Communication

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Aim: In this presentation, we will discuss and give examples of how the theoretical framework of Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) might be used to analyse augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

Method: The presentation involves a study where we used a CHAT model targeted at activity analyses, The Activity Diamond, as conceptual structure when analysing results from two AAC projects. The first project dealt with the design of activity-based vocabularies for voice output communication aids while the other involved developing an online photo diary to be used by children with complex communication needs in interaction with friends and family. In the presentation, we will use examples based on video clips and transcriptions of interviews and real-life situations from the projects in the presentation.

Results: CHAT deals with "the individual in society" and "society in the individual" and how the two co-evolve over time, with contradictions and tensions as the main source for development. We will discuss how the individual and his or her goals for the activity at hand, and human, artefactual and natural factors in the environment influence AAC activities.

Conclusion: When using the Activity Diamond model, we discover a system of interrelated factors, which influence each other and the subject’s empowerment and conditions for acting in accordance with his or her goals. Based on examples from the two projects and the activity theoretical analyses of them, we will highlight aspects that need to be taken into consideration when designing and developing a new AAC system or AAC practice.

Author(s):

Per-Olof Hedvall    
Certec, Lund University
Sweden

Bitte Rydeman    
Certec, Lund University
Sweden

 

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