REFLECTIONS OF NINE PARTICIPANTS REGARDING THEIR EXPERIENCES OF BEING AFRICAN AMERICAN AND USING AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION ACROSS THEIR LIFESPAN AT HOME, SCHOOL, VOCATION, AND COMMUNITY

Open Access
Author:
Davis, Rhonda
Graduate Program:
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
September 30, 2005
Committee Members:
  • Kathryn D R Drager, Committee Chair
  • Janice Catherine Light, Committee Member
  • Carol Hammer, Committee Member
  • Keith B Wilson, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • augmentative and alternative communication
  • African American
  • AAC systems
  • phenomenology
  • discrimination
  • barriers
  • supports
  • recommendations
  • school
  • home
  • vocation
  • employment
  • community
Abstract:
Individuals with complex communication needs that use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) (e.g., letterboards, communication notebooks, computerized devices) have rich experiences regarding using AAC. However, individuals who use AAC are often not questioned about their personal experiences using AAC. In addition, individuals who are from diverse ethnic identities are often not included in research. For individuals from diverse ethnicities who also use AAC, their perspectives are virtually unknown. The lack of knowledge regarding individuals who are from diverse ethnicities and use AAC impacts the types and quality of service delivery to the population. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of African American adults who used AAC in regards to barriers, supports, and recommendations for improving AAC services and systems for African Americans who use AAC. Phenomenology methods were utilized to explore nine participants’ experiences using AAC across their life. A series of face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted. After data collection was completed, participants read summaries about their personal experiences and answered questions about their personal data and questions about the themes that emerged from the data. From the data six themes emerged showing interrelationships between the themes. The six themes were the following: a) individuals, b) interventions, c) locations, d) barriers, e) supports, and f) recommendations for improving AAC services and systems. Based on the results of the study, many of the interventions were provided with the intent to improve the lives of African Americans who used AAC. Oftentimes however, the individuals and interventions were only minimally supportive or were barriers. Results of the study have clinical and social implications for African Americans who use AAC services and systems. Results, implications, and future research directions are discussed.