Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



K,.Salley, M.Sindt, K. & McCarthy, J (2020; September). Photos for Visual Scene Displays: Input from Interviews with Visual Media Experts. Poster accepted at the 2020 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention, San Diego, CA (convention cancelled). doi:10.32873/unl.dc.oth.005


Copyright (c) 2020 by the authors


Visual Scene Displays (VSDs) are a promising interface for AAC systems for children and adults. Although recent research has focused on design principles of traditional grid displays, there is comparatively little information on VSDs. Ten individuals with a background in photography and visual composition were interviewed following a brief overview of visual scene displays applied to AAC systems. Interviews were analyzed for themes, lasting around 45 minutes each. Participants gave feedback on principles of composition, how those principles inform their own work, and “quick tips” on matching photos with goals related to communication in VSDs.

Individuals whose natural speech is inadequate to meet their daily communication needs can benefit from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. Traditionally, AAC device displays utilize a grid layout, arranging communication items in a decontextualized manner. In contrast, Visual Scene Displays (VSDs) utilize context rich images (e.g., photographs) that depict events and activities, presenting communication items in a contextualized manner (e.g., the individual may a toy from an image of their toy chest; Wilkinson et al., 2012). For children scenes that depict familiar action routines allow for ready participation in routines and the emphasis is on quick capture of scenes to be used “in the moment” or “just in time (Wilkinson, et al., 2012). For adults, scenes can help support communication with familiar and unfamiliar partners based on significant life events and through photos with strong indicators of context and people involved (Light et al., 2019).