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J Commun Disord. 2018 May - Jun;73:62-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2018.04.002. Epub 2018 Apr 14.

AAC services for multilingual populations: South African service provider perspectives.

Author information

1
Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Communication Pathology Building, University of Pretoria, Hatfield, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa. Electronic address: Kerstin.tonsing@up.ac.za.
2
Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Communication Pathology Building, University of Pretoria, Hatfield, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa. Electronic address: Karin.vanniekerk@up.ac.za.
3
Human Language Technology Research Group, Meraka Institute, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, PO Box 395, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa. Electronic address: gschlunz@csir.org.za.
4
Human Language Technology Research Group, Meraka Institute, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, PO Box 395, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa. Electronic address: iwilken@csir.org.za.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In South Africa, many persons in need of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) come from multilingual backgrounds. There is as yet a limited evidence base (locally and internationally) for the provision of AAC services to multilingual populations. The perspectives of service providers can assist in gaining an understanding of current practices and the factors that influence these.

AIMS:

The study aimed to obtain the perspectives of AAC service providers about practices in providing AAC systems and AAC intervention to clients from multilingual backgrounds.

METHODS & PROCEDURES:

Fifteen AAC service providers were purposefully chosen to participate in one of three focus groups - two face-to-face and one online focus group. Data from the face-to-face focus groups was transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes and subthemes in the data.

OUTCOMES & RESULTS:

Four overarching themes were identified, namely (a) current practices, (b) factors influencing current practices, (c) service provides' orientation towards different language options in AAC intervention, and (d) needs and desired developments regarding AAC technology. This paper reports on the first three themes. Service providers reported their practices to range from a focus on L1 exclusively, L2 exclusively, to a multilingual (sequential or simultaneous) approach. The South African language context, family language preferences and choices, service provider skill and knowledge, as well as AAC technology were identified as factors influencing their practices. Although many viewed access to multiple languages through AAC as positive, they also expressed concerns and reservations about providing multilingual AAC services.

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS:

Although service providers in general saw the need to give clients from multilingual backgrounds access to multiple languages using AAC, this did not always translate into multilingual AAC practices. Both extrinsic factors (e.g. the lack of appropriate AAC devices, software and apps giving access to non-English languages) and intrinsic factors (service providers' language competency and their beliefs about the cognitive demands of multilingual AAC systems) influenced their practices and choices. Appropriate AAC service delivery to multilingual populations in South Africa would require not only appropriate AAC technology developments, but also research evidence to establish the efficacy of multilingual AAC interventions for clients with a variety of characteristics.

KEYWORDS:

AAC service providers; AAC technology; Augmentative and alternative communication; Evidence base; Multilingualism

PMID:
29702365
DOI:
10.1016/j.jcomdis.2018.04.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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