Use of Mainstream Wireless Technology by Adults who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Date of Publication: 
2015 March

Cellphones, smartphones and tablets offer considerable potential to enhance the independence and social and economic participation of people with disabilities. The rapid proliferation of smartphones and tablets has offered new low-cost speech generating options on mainstream platforms for users of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. Data are presented from the Survey of User Needs (SUN), a national survey on use of mobile wireless technology by people across several disability types. The wireless experiences and needs of AAC users are compared with those of other respondents with disabilities. A total of 38 adult AAC users and 998 adults with disabilities who do not use AAC completed the questionnaire. Only 70% of respondents who use AAC reported owning or using a wireless device (basic cellphone, smartphone, or tablet), compared to 92% of other respondents with disabilities. More than half (55%) of AAC respondents who do not have a wireless device said they did not have the hand function to use one; a third (36%) said wireless devices were not compatible with their other aids. AAC respondents were more likely than other respondents to own a tablet.


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