Infrequent updates (another metablog entry)

November 2, 2008

So, in addition to my usual PhD stuff keeping me from updating this blog, I’ve also been dealing with a broken rib that I sustained in a bike crash.


This causes me extreme pain whenever I

  • move
  • lay down
  • sit up
  • switch from any of laying down, sitting up, or standing to any of the others.
  • sneeze (oh my God, especially when I sneeze)
  • reach for anything with my right hand (like my mouse or keyboard)

Lessons learned from this experience:

One of the most consistent reseach findings regarding AAC use is that people who use AAC tend to be rather passive and do not initiate communication often. Furthermore, conversations with people who use AAC tend to consist of far fewer turns taken by the person using AAC.

I think I know why. When communication is very effortful, exhausting, or even physically painful, one would naturally conserve energy for the most important messages. And even those messages would tend to be briefer.

Producing a blog post last week would have been painful (it kindof hurts now, but not as bad). And as much as I enjoy recording and sharing my thoughts, it falls behind other things on my list of priorities and I conserve my limited energy for other things.

This is important for AAC design. The casual communication that we engage in every day should be made as easy as possible. This stuff is meaningful and important over the long term because it forms the foundation of social relationships, but on a moment-to-moment basis it is really unimportant. It is the accumulation of trivial interactions over time that form social bonds.

The next time I am programming a device, I’m going to compare how high-priority needs and wants are stored versus the low priority social communication. While NEEDS, being more acutely important, seem like they sould go near the top, are those also the messages that one would be more willing to expend more effort to produce?? Do they need to be the easiest messages to produce? Should we be paying more attention to other communication modalities for casual social interactions?

One Response to “Infrequent updates (another metablog entry)”

  1. alltogether Says:

    Adam, Nice introspection. Those tough times of insight can have gifts like that.

    Great thought about the cumulative effects of interactions.

    The Tango is very much based on that concept.

    It will be fun to put our minds together to see what we think can meet that goal. We’ll have to do a brainstorm session like our talks in Montreal.

    Thought you might like to check out this article:

    Todman, John, Alm, Norman, Higginbotham, Jeff and File, Portia(2008)’Whole Utterance Approaches in
    AAC’,Augmentative and Alternative Communication,24:3,235 — 254

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