Considerations for the composition of visual scene displays: potential contributions of information from visual and cognitive sciences

Augment Altern Commun. 2012 Sep;28(3):137-47. doi: 10.3109/07434618.2012.704522.


Aided augmentative and alternative (AAC) interventions have been demonstrated to facilitate a variety of communication outcomes in persons with intellectual disabilities. Most aided AAC systems rely on a visual modality. When the medium for communication is visual, it seems likely that the effectiveness of intervention depends in part on the effectiveness and efficiency with which the information presented in the display can be perceived, identified, and extracted by communicators and their partners. Understanding of visual-cognitive processing - that is, how a user attends, perceives, and makes sense of the visual information on the display - therefore seems critical to designing effective aided AAC interventions. In this Forum Note, we discuss characteristics of one particular type of aided AAC display, that is, Visual Scene Displays (VSDs) as they may relate to user visual and cognitive processing. We consider three specific ways in which bodies of knowledge drawn from the visual cognitive sciences may be relevant to the composition of VSDs, with the understanding the direct research with children with complex communication needs is necessary to verify or refute our speculations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognitive Science / methods
  • Communication Aids for Disabled / psychology*
  • Education of Intellectually Disabled / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Male
  • Photography*
  • Software Design
  • Visual Perception*