Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  McNaughton, D., Light, J., & Gulla, S. (2003). Opening up a whole new world: Employer and co-worker perspectives on working with individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19 (4), 235-253.
Title:  Opening up a whole new world: Employer and co-worker perspectives on working with individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication
Authors:  McNaughton, D., Light, J., & Gulla, S.
Year:  2003
Journal/Publication:  Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Publisher:  Taylor & Francis Ltd
Full text:  http://mcn.ed.psu.edu/dbm/McN%20publications/McNaughton_03_%20Emplo...   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes
Research design:  Qualitative research

Structured abstract:

Background:  Employment provides numerous social and financial benefits and is the stated goal of many that use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) yet it remains elusive to obtain. It is estimated that over 85% of individuals that use AAC are unemployed. Employer and co-worker attitudes towards working with individuals that use AAC vary widely and play a crucial role in employment.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to document the experiences of co-workers and employers who have hired and/or worked with individuals that have used AAC.
Study sample:  Individuals that use AAC were asked to nominate their co-workers and employers to participate in the study. Fourteen individuals participated in the study with 8 being employers of people using AAC and 6 being co-workers. Seven participants were male and 7 were female.
Data collection and analysis:  The data was collected qualitatively through interviews and questionnaires of the participants.
Findings:  Participants spoke to the importance of identifying and developing job matches, preparation with education and relevant experience, having reliable AAC technology, positive co-worker attitudes, and physical accessibility.
Conclusions:  Though using AAC in the workplace poses many challenges it also has numerous benefits for both the employee and employer.

Disabilities served:  Cerebral palsy
Interventions:  Assistive technology