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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Bright

Turn-taking, floor holding and symmetrical conversations

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

10 years after we first launched Predictable some of the key issues that remain problematic for people who use AAC relate to the difficulties in conversation arising from the (inherent) slowed rate of producing a message as well as barriers that are often in place due to the environment or due to the abilities of their conversation partner.

Research on the issues of asymmetrical conversations highlights the difficulties that AAC users face (Clarke & Kirton, 2003; Sortiroplou et al, 2021). Strategies for improving the skills of conversational partners and the call for context-aware AAC devices (Judge et al, 2015; Higginbotham, 2012) are both valid ways of trying to address those issues. We hear frequently from people who use Predictable that missing out on interrupting others, being able to quickly repair in conversation and the slowed-down conversation pace are frustrations.

We try to innovate and add-in features, knowing that tech will only partly solve any of these issues. A couple of the ways we have tried to help is with: * Floorholding - enabling the user to save phrases to use to try to keep the floor or to use while typing.

* Favourites and History - placed at the top of the screen with phrases ready for quick-fire use as well as the most recent phrases used for repeating for emphasis or repair

* Phrase bank - the ability to save and access phrases in categories - not always possible but a useful way to use comments in environments like GP appointments or other institutional conversation examples perhaps.


Clarke M, Kirton A. Patterns of interaction between children with physical disabilities using augmentative and alternative communication systems and their peers. Child Language Teaching and Therapy. 2003;19(2):135-151. doi:10.1191/0265659003ct248oa Christina Sotiropoulou Drosopoulou, Janice Murray, Martine Smith, Kaisa Launonen, Kirsi Neuvonen, Yvonne Lynch, Kristine Stadskleiv, Stephen Von Tetzchner, Conversation Patterns between Children with Severe Speech Impairment and their Conversation Partners in Dyadic and Multi-person Interactions, Applied Linguistics, 2021;, amab043, Simon Judge, Mark S. Hawley, Stuart Cunningham & Andrea Kirton(2015)What is the potential for context aware communication aids?,Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology,39:7,448-453,DOI: 10.3109/03091902.2015.1088091

D. Jeffery Higginbotham PhD, Gregory W. Lesher PhD, Bryan J. Moulton MS & Brian Roark PhD (2012) The Application of Natural Language Processing to Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Assistive Technology, 24:1, 14-24, DOI: 10.1080/10400435.2011.648714

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