Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award

2017

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

College

College of Education & Allied Health

Department

Communication Disorders and Deaf Education

First Advisor

Gale B. Rice

Second Advisor

Susan T. Lenihan

Third Advisor

Jenna Voss

Keywords

Low-ses, cochlear, development, families, apraxia, technology, assistive

Abstract

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems are a type of assistive technology that provide communication options for those who are unable to meet their daily communication needs through speech, gestures, or handwriting (Augmentative and Alternative Communication, n.d.). Socioeconomic status (SES) is a measurement tool used to determine an individual’s social standing by looking at their level of education, income and occupation (Socioeconomic Status, n.d.). The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between socioeconomic status and the acquisition of speech generating AAC devices. It is hypothesized that the lower one’s SES, the more negatively the acquisition process will be rated. Previous research has found differences in acquiring other assistive technologies based on SES. Children with profound hearing loss are less likely to use or be referred for cochlear implants if they come from less affluent backgrounds (Fortnum, Marshall, & Summerfield, 2002; Wiley & Meinzen-Derr, 2009). In the present study, twelve parents were recruited from an AAC theater camp hosted at a small private university. Study participants were interviewed and completed a survey. Results do not support the hypothesis as the relationship between SES and the acquisition of speech generating AAC devices was not significant nor correlated (r = -.224, n = 12, p = .485). The researcher believes that this is due to the children who use devices having highly variable situations and facing multifactorial acquisition processes (insurance, school, organizations, etc.) which may have diluted the influence of SES. A statistically significant relationship existed between AAC acquisition satisfaction composite scores and education/advocacy composite scores (r = .742, n = 12, p = .005). Such a relationship demonstrates that the higher a caregiver rated their educational and advocacy experiences, the more satisfied they felt with the overall acquisition process.

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