Video Visual Scene Displays to enhance participation in community activities (O’Neill & Light, 2017)

Tara O'Neill

O’Neill, T., & Light, J.  (2017, March).  Video Visual Scene Displays to enhance participation in community activities.  Technical session at the Pennsylvania Speech-Language Hearing Association (PSHA) Convention in Harrisburg, PA.  [Handout ]


The majority of individuals with complex communication needs (CCN) who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) are evaluated in segregated settings. Additionally, less than 5% of individuals with CCN are employed even part time, often due to their lack of effective communication skills. Clearly, there is a critical need for interventions that target the use of AAC in community and vocational activities. The current investigation is a case study that examines the use of interactive video visual scene displays (VSDs) on a tablet-based app to enhance the participation of an adolescent (“Lena”) with autism spectrum disorder and CCN in community and vocational activities.

VSDs are a type of AAC display that depict language concepts embedded within photos of events to provide a high level of contextual support. Video VSDs provide an innovative AAC interface by using videos of daily events with embedded VSDs to enhance participation in dynamic interactions.

In the current investigation, Lena used the video VSD app to support her participation and communication within three activities: riding the public bus, working at the print shop, and completing a shredding job at school. The outcome measure evaluated was the percent of steps completed and communication opportunities fulfilled within each activity. From baseline levels of 6-25% accuracy, Lena reached between 75-100% accuracy by the final intervention session across contexts, with minimal direct instruction on the use of the app. Lena, her mother, and her teacher reported satisfaction with the app.

This study documents recent work in  D2: Developing AAC Technology to Support Interactive Video Visual Scene Displays.

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