Semantic Organization Preferences of AAC Users

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


AAC researchers have highlighted the importance of matching the external organizational layout of an AAC device to the internal organizational layout of a user’s mind. But what is the internal organizational layout of the AAC user’s mind? Unfortunately, to date the cognition of AAC users has not been fully explored and generalizations from people without language impairments are not justified. The present research uses both quantitative and qualitative data to investigate semantic organizational preferences and link them to experience with AAC devices and/or other symbol-based systems.

We constructed an object-sort test in which participants were free to organize pictured objects according to any rule or requirement they wished. Nine stimulus sets, comprised of 9 images each, were designed to allow sorts by either common categories (things of the same type i.e all vehicles: lorry, fire engine, tractor) or themes (things which occur together i.e the fire service: fireman, fire engine, ladder). After completing the sort task, participants were interviewed about their organizational preferences. Thirty-three undergraduate participants without language impairment took part and we are currently testing adult users of AAC using an augmented structured interview procedure.

We will assess sorting preferences for the two groups of participants. Across participants analysed thus far, we observed variation in organizational preferences, with some participants consistently sorting categorically and others consistently sorting thematically. An on-going thematic analysis of the interview responses is aimed at understanding the sources of this variance. For instance, some responses from the undergraduate sample indicated that experience with symbolic systems (e.g., emojis) influenced their organizational preferences. The variability in responses reinforces the need for individual assessment to allow a match between the external organizational layout of an AAC device and the internal organizational layout of a user’s mind.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2017
EventCommunication Matters : CM2017 National AAC Conference - University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Sept 201712 Sept 2017


ConferenceCommunication Matters
Abbreviated titleCM2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Semantic Organization Preferences of AAC Users'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this