ATIA Research

Assistive Technology Research Matters

Find guidance on starting or expanding assistive technology (AT) research activities in this compilation of resources developed by ATIA and the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI). Presented as an interactive document, Assistive Technology Research Matters covers key concepts and tools, best practices in design, funding support, and how to get started with even a small staff. In conjunction with the launch of this document, NCTI and ATIA hosted a series of free webinars to explore these topics, which are available to view as recordings.

ATIA Triumph Stories

The ATIA is charged by its members with raising public awareness about assistive technology. One of the most inspirational efforts is the series of stories we have commissioned from people whose lives have been changed with assistive technology.

Assistive Technology Research Conversations

Our “Conversations” on research topics involve webinars presented by researchers and practitioners as well as discussion groups at conferences and collections of research articles on this site.

Previous AT Research Conversations

“The Critical Need for Knowledge and Usage of AT and AAC Among Speech-Language Pathologists”

In 2017, ATIA released the results of a 2011 survey of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) that was conducted to explore attitudes and use of assistive technology (AT) and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). 549 SLPs participated in the survey, all of whom were part of either the Schools special interest group or AAC special interest group divisions of ASHA.

Some of the results of the survey are of particular interest to those of us in the school setting.

  • Most respondents felt that their undergraduate and graduate education did not prepare them to competently provide AAC services within their practice.
  • 86% of respondents would like to know more about AT and AAC services and equipment.
  • Only a tenth of respondents believe that there are “sufficient ranks of SLPs with AT and AAC knowledge to meet the needs of consumers.”
  • Many respondents reported that AAC services were inconsistently delivered in their setting due at least in part to lack of expertise.

Full Survey Results 

“Designing Effective Technologies Through the Use of Personas: As Developed in AAC Research and at Microsoft”

Join the ATIA Research Committee for a discussion of the development and application of user descriptions, or user personalities, to help guide in the design of effective technologies and user interfaces. For persons with disabilities this can lead to the incorporation of adaptive strategies that can result in improved product performance. Personas are frequently developed for use in product design, especially for consumer-based products and user interfaces. A user persona consists of the goals, values and behavior of a group based on the behavior patterns of individuals. Dr. Higginbotham addresses using personas of individuals with ALS in designing new AAC technologies and AAC interfaces. Annuska Perkins talks about Microsoft’s approach to using inclusive personas. She addresses the benefits and challenges of applying personas throughout the software development life cycle.

—Jeff Higginbotham, PhD, CCC/SLP Director, Center for Excellence in Augmented Communication; Professor, University of Buffalo
—Annuska Perkins,
Microsoft Accessible Technology Group

Free Archived Recording

“Designing Effective AAC Technologies for Beginning Communicators”

To date, few guidelines exist to support clinicians and manufacturers in the design of effective AAC systems for beginning communicators. When AAC systems are well designed, they may enhance communication and language outcomes for beginning communicators with complex communication needs. However, poorly designed AAC systems may interfere with language learning and communication effectiveness. In this session, we discuss guidelines for the design of effective AAC technologies for beginning communicators with complex communication needs, including infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with developmental disabilities (e.g., autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome) as well as older individuals with significant cognitive impairments. The session presents research results from recent studies and suggests clinical guidelines to improve the design of AAC systems based on these research results.

—Janice Light, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Pennsylvania State University

Free Archived Recording