TAT4AAC: The Iterative Design Process

Author-Avatar MFO

12/23/2019 8:47 PM

Hopefully you have had a chance to explore the TAT4AAC at Today, I’d like to describe the 6 steps that went into building the website and adding the content. The project was led by Aimee Mooney, a speech-language pathologist, researcher and assistant professor at OHSU. She was joined by Michelle Kinsella OT, Deirdre McLaughlin SLP, and myself.  Attached below I have included a photo of myself, Aimee and Michelle (from left to right); Deirdre wasn’t available at picture taking time. She was probably evaluating a youngster for AAC or working on Matrix data!

Step 1:
We began the project by asking: What features of AAC technologies should we include in this new reference tool? We reviewed 8 different feature lists and ended up with four feature categories: Access, Display, Language and Output. We placed 54 AAC device/app features within these four categories. We validated this feature list nationally, asking AAC clinicians, users and developers to confirm our framework.

Step 2:
We then examined the cognitive skills that are critical to AAC devices. We chose to focus on three cognitive skills: attention, memory, and executive function. We validated these selections through a consensus process with national cognition experts. In the pdf below you can see the grid that we formed to answer the question: What AAC features have cognitive demands, as reported by the research literature?

Step 3:
With a framework in place to examine cognitive demands of each AAC feature, we delved into the current research literature. We conducted a literature review using the following guidelines: (1) use the key words attention, memory, executive function + designated AAC feature (i.e., memory + AAC direct selection); (2) only use literature from the past 10 years unless seminal article; (3) each article is read independently by 2 research associates who agree on inclusion in the TAT4AAC interactive library. (4) A summary is written for each article following strict rules so that the annotation is consistent throughout the website. Articles were tagged as either theoretical or empirical, for adult or child populations. A total of 68 articles were included in the final website.

Step 4:
 We contracted with a web designer to develop the final product which includes an interactive library and final report function. When we had finished the first version, we presented it to 72 stakeholders (AAC clinicians; educators; cognitive rehabilitation clinicians; AAC developers and technologists; people who rely on AAC and their parents or spouses; researchers). We redesigned portions of the final website based on their responses and recommendations.

Step 5:
  It was very important to us that potential TAT4AAC users understand the purpose of this tool and how it was developed. We spent a lot of time designing the home page, our mission statement and the development process. It was developed to (1) provide references about the cognitive demands of specific features of AAC technologies and (2) provide opportunities for clinicians to consider and compare the cognitive demands of AAC technologies.

We are clear that the TAT4AAC is:
-NOT an assessment tool.
-NOT a prerequisite list of cognitive skills needed before AAC technology is introduced.
-NOT a list to determine eligibility for potential device trial, purchase or training.
-NOT a list of cognitive skills needed before device trialing or purchase.
-NOT a base to eliminate AAC options for individuals who may rely on AAC technologies.

In the second image below, you can see an example of the cognitive demand report.

Step 6:
The TAT4AAC website went live on Tuesday, November 12. We invite you to explore it and add it to your AAC toolbox. It can be found at:

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