Disentangling the social threads within a communicative environment: a cacophonous tale of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC)
Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) technology is being increasingly recognised as an important means of fostering the literacy of students with significant disabilities. However, the coordinated use of AAC technology continues to challenge professionals, families and users leading to dissonant meanings and fragmented use. This paper is an attempt to inquire into, and disentangle some of, the social threads that made up the communicative environment of one first-grade student with significant disabilities – Trevor – for whom augmentative communication technology was procured. The ethnographic study reported in this paper documents the conflicting meanings of access and participation that surfaced among the multiple participants under whose guidance Trevor was required to use AAC. The paper discloses the assumptions implicit in these practices and in the conceptions of literacy enacted by different professionals. The paper notes the significance of these issues for Trevor’s narrative construction of himself and concludes with implications for practitioners.