Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Aphasiology 24:5 (2010), pp. 643—660.

doi: 10.1080/02687030902869299


Copyright © 2010 Psychology Press; published by Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


Background: Low-tech visual scene displays (VSDs) combine contextually rich pictures and written text to support the communication of people with aphasia. VSDs create a shared communication space in which a person with aphasia and a communication partner co-construct messages.

Aims: The researchers examined the effect of low-tech VSDs on the content and quality of communicative interactions between a person with aphasia and unfamiliar communication partners.

Methods & Procedures: One person with aphasia and nine unfamiliar communication partners engaged in short, one-on-one conversations about a specified topic in one of three conditions: shared-VSDs, non-shared-VSDs, and no-VSDs. Data included discourse analysis scores reflecting the conceptual complexity of utterances, content unit analyses of information communication partners gathered from the interaction, and Likert-scale responses from the person with aphasia about his perception of communicative ease and effectiveness.

Outcomes & Results: Comparisons made across conditions revealed: (a) the most conversational turns occurred in the shared-VSDs condition; (b) communication partners produced utterances with higher conceptual complexity in the shared-VSDs condition; (c) the person with aphasia conveyed the greatest number of content units in the shared- VSDs condition; and (d) the person with aphasia perceived that information transfer, ease of conversational interaction, and partner understanding were best in the shared-VSDs condition.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that low-tech VSDs have an impact on the manner and extent to which a person with aphasia and a communication partner contribute to conversational interactions involving information transfer