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Supporting emergent bilinguals who use AAC (King et al., 2022)

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posted on 2022-08-04, 18:19 authored by Marika R. King, Hannah Ward, Gloria Soto, Tyson BarrettTyson Barrett

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to examine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on speech-language pathologist (SLP) service provision for emergent bilinguals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). One prominent issue in AAC service delivery is the efficacy and feasibility of providing AAC services via telepractice. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified this issue as most providers, clients, and families adjusted to remote service delivery models. While emerging evidence supports telepractice in AAC, little is known about the potential benefits and challenges of telepractice for emergent bilinguals who use AAC and their families. 

Method: Data were collected via a nationwide survey. Licensed SLPs (N = 160) completed an online questionnaire with Likert-type, multiple-choice, and open-ended questions, analyzed using mixed methods. 

Results: Findings illustrated a shift in service delivery from in-person to telepractice and hybrid (both telepractice and in-person) models. Overall, child intervention outcomes declined for emergent bilinguals who used AAC during the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of service delivery format. However, collaboration increased for many providers and families. Qualitative analyses highlighted barriers to AAC service provision for emergent bilinguals who use AAC that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as factors that facilitated collaboration and family engagement.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that, despite challenges, telepractice or hybrid services may be a promising approach to provide more culturally responsive, family-centered care for emergent bilinguals who use AAC.

Supplemental Material S1. Survey.

Supplemental Material S2. Qualitative coding scheme.

King, M., Ward, H., Soto, G., & Barrett, T. S. (2022). Supporting emergent bilinguals who use augmentative and alternative communication and their families: Lessons in telepractice from the COVID-19 pandemic. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.


This work was supported in part by a graduate student research award (awarded to Hannah Ward) from the Utah State University College of Education and Human Services.