John McCarthy, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences
Grover Center W242
Office Phone (740) 597-1764
Personal Webpage: www.ohio.edu/people/mccarthj
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Many children with complex communication needs also have concomitant
physical disabilities. These individuals may not be able to interact
with a computer-based system with their hands. In a visual interface,
scanning is a selection method where items in a display are highlighted
and individuals who have one volitional movement activate an external
device to select an item they see highlighted.
Young children with severe physical impairments have difficulty understanding current methods of scanning.
McCarthy et al., (2006) found that when children are presented with an object that zooms out towards them during a scanning sequence, they were more likely to learn the requirements of the interface with minimal instruction.
An additional challenge is added when individuals also have visual impairments. When the visual medium cannot be used, items are not highlighted visually, but are announced audibly. Improvements in technology now allow for a variety of animated graphics and sound cues to play within aided AAC displays.
Scanning within visual scenes using a variety of animated and auditory cues is a current focus of research in the lab.
Smith, McCarthy and Benigno (2009) found that the position of a high-tech AAC system had an impact on the ability of infants to engage in bouts of coordinated joint attention.
Beukelman, Ball and
Horn (2002), found that intervention specialists and pre-service
professionals preferred to learn about technology in small interactive
groups and did not like direct instruction methods. They also found
that pre-service and current professionals’ interest in
technology is low, despite knowledge of its importance.
Discussion boards were conducted with two different graduate cohorts to supplement in-class instruction regarding assistive technology. One cohort participated as a single large group while the second was divided into small groups. Discussions were analyzed for themes and quality. Students’ evaluations of the experience were also analyzed.
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Individuals with severe
communication disabilities continue to experience reduced expectations
and opportunities in employment as the result of negative attitudes
(McNaughton, Light & Arnold, 2002).
Contact with and information about individuals with disabilities has been shown to be effective in changing negative attitudes (Shaver, Curtis & Strong, 1989).
Reading personal accounts may be effective as a means of providing information and even approximating contact in order to change attitudes (Dal Cin, Zanna & Fong, 2004).
A Solomon Four-Group Design was used to study the effects of reading personal narratives written by an individual with complex communication needs on the attitudes, potential future behaviors, and general experiences of 109 undergraduate business majors (McCarthy, Donofrio-Horwitz, & Smucker, in press). The Attitudes Toward Nonspeaking Persons Scale (ATNP) and a scale of behavioral intentions modeled according to Azjen's (1991) Theory of Planned Behavior were used as dependent variables. A sub-group of individuals in the experimental group participated in individual follow-up interviews.
Results revealed individuals who read the narratives had more positive attitudes than those who did not; however, there were potentially reactive effects for pre-testing evident on one scale of the ATNP scale. Interviews revealed a need for more explicit information about the workings of AAC and a need to change expectations about working with individuals with disabilities.
Soundbeam is a device that translates movement into music. It uses an
ultrasonic beam to pick up motion within the field or range of the
beam. The motion is then carried back through the device as a product
of reflection, and then using MIDI technology, instructions for music
are written that coincide with the movements that were made. A computer
and/or music synthesizer then produces the music output according to
the movements originally detected by the ultrasonic beam of the
Vibroacoustic therapy is a novel therapy being researched for its efficacy with varying populations including individuals with severe disabilities.
The Soundbox can be used as part of a sensory room, or on its own. In addition to enabling people with hearing impairments to feel sound, it has a range of sensory uses that can be either relaxing or stimulating, depending upon the sounds/music used and the personalities of those exp eriencing the vibration.
Currently we are exploring possible theraputic applications as well as uses for the equipment to help individuals with disabilities express themselves in a creative way.
*Visit the Soundbeam Website
View Ohio University Dance Students Performing with the Soundbeam
emailed to a large number of Music Therapists inquiring about their
current and past collaborative efforts with Speech Language Pathogists
as well as about their experiences working with individuals who use AAC
systems. Fewer participants reported currently working with SLPs
(42.8%), although 50.1% reported currently working with someone
requiring some form of AAC. Participants reported a mean level of
expertise with AAC of 3.9 on a scale of 1-7. Sharing knowledge was
noted as a top benefit of working with SLPs, while scheduling was
reported as the most frequent challenge.
Currently we are reviewing music techniques for their efficacy with individuals with complex communication needs requiring AAC
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completed a project
investigating teaching the relational concept "on" to children who use
AAC. Her study utilized an animated scene and direct instruction
methods to teach the concept.
Lacey graduated with a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Ohio University in August, 2007.
study examining the effect of animated feedback on assisting typically
developing children to locate verbs within a visual scene. She found
that children perform well without animated feedback, when the concepts
are appropriately embedded within the scene.
Jackie graduated with a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Ohio University in December, 2007.
See Jackie's 2007 ASHA Convention Poster
project examined the
effect of exposure to personal narratives written by an individual with
disabilities on the attitude of fifth grade students towards children
who require AAC.
Laura graduated with a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Ohio University in August, 2008.
project which aimed to discover the joint attention abilities and
behaviors of beginning communicators when the postion of an AAC device
is altered in a one to one interaction.
Julia graduated with a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Ohio University in August, 2008.
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Page Last Updated: November 24, 2013