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Identifying implementation strategies for AAC (Quinn et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-07-25, 19:13 authored by Emily D. Quinn, Kim Kurin, Kristi Atkins, Alexandria Cook

Purpose: The goal of this study was to identify promising implementation strategies that may increase teachers’ and speech-language pathologists’ (SLPs) adoption of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) during routine classroom activities.

Method: A grounded theory approach was used to collect and code online, semistructured interviews with six special education teachers and 14 SLPs who taught children aged 3–8 years who used AAC in inclusive and self-contained special education classrooms. Interviews were transcribed and coded verbatim using the constant comparative method. During a member checking process, six participants (n = 30%) confirmed their transcripts and commented on emerging themes.

Results: Participants shared a range of implementation strategies to increase AAC use during typical classroom activities, which were organized into seven themes: distribute modern AAC equipment, provide foundational training, share video examples, develop a systematic plan for adoption, deliver practice-based coaching, alter personnel obligations to provide protected time, and connect with professionals. A preliminary thematic map was created to link implementation barriers, strategies, and potential outcomes.

Conclusions: AAC interventions effective in clinical research can be difficult to translate into routine practice unless investigators directly explore the needs of and demands on educational professionals. Future research should define implementation strategies clearly, solicit feedback from school-personnel, and match implementation strategies to the needs of local schools to support the uptake of AAC interventions in routine classroom settings.

Supplemental Material S1. Author positionality statements.

Supplemental Material S2. Interview questions guide.

Supplemental Material S3. Literature review on AAC research and implementation science research in education.

Supplemental Material S4. Research memo format.

Quinn, E. D., Kurin, K., Atkins, K. L., & Cook, A. (2023). Identifying implementation strategies to increase augmentative and alternative communication adoption in early childhood classrooms: A qualitative study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 54(4), 1136–1154.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Forum: Implementation Science in School-Based Settings.


The National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences Grant #R324B190024 (Oregon Health & Science University, PI: Emily D. Quinn) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Grant #HS026370) supported this work.