All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award



Master of Science (MS)


College of Education & Allied Health

Degree Program

Speech-Language Pathology


Communication Disorders and Deaf Education

First Advisor

Gale B. Rice

Second Advisor

Laura O'Hara

Third Advisor

Jenna Voss


Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Communicative Disorders, Demographics


Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) encompasses a wide range of tools, technologies, and intervention techniques that aim to foster and advance communication competence in individuals with complex communication needs (CCN). The individuals who utilize AAC span a range of ages, diagnoses, and cultures—but little data exists regarding prevalence of AAC use and the true nature of the population’s heterogeneity. The purposes of this study were 1. to describe and analyze the population of pediatric AAC users (birth-21) in Missouri and 2. to evaluate the preparation speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have had to serve these learners. To gather this information, a survey was developed and disseminated to SLPs who were members of the Missouri Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The survey response rate was 4%. Results indicated that approximately 10% of children ages birth-21 on Missouri SLPs’ caseloads used AAC. Reported AAC users were diverse in geographic area, disability type, and racial and ethnic identity. SLPs working with these children had a range of pre-service experiences. There was no statistically significant correlation between any type of professional preparation SLPs received and their comfort providing AAC services. Despite their level of professional preparation, all SLPs indicated areas related to AAC in which they sought more knowledge and experience. More effort must be made to ensure inclusion and quality of AAC courses in professional preparation programs, to better monitor the demographic profile of the population of Missouri children who use AAC, and to advance legislation that supports the needs of this population.

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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