Purpose: People who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) vary widely in their skills and communication needs. Interventions have been developed to meet different needs, but have met with varied success. Attempts to discover why interventions succeed or fail are hindered by the lack of detailed description of the research participants and the environments in which they communicate. This paper reviews the information commonly given about AAC research participants and presents guidelines for the description of people who use AAC, their conversation partners and their communicative environments.
Method: Electronic databases were searched for AAC intervention research reports published between 1990 and 2004. Data on research participants and their communication environments were extracted from reviewed papers. Information given in published papers and variables known to affect communication were presented to an expert group. A modified Nominal Group technique was used to decide what information should be reported in AAC intervention research.
Results: Guidelines for participant description that link with the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health were developed from the results of the nominal group.
Conclusions: Detailed information is needed to demonstrate efficacy of AAC interventions. Guidelines for participant description are presented and discussion of their utility is now needed.