Graduate Program

Communication Disorders and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Trina M. Becker

Thesis Committee Member

Beth L. Bergstrom

Thesis Committee Member

Rebecca M. Throneburg


Historically, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention has focused on improving the communication skills of the individual using AAC, with limited support given to the communication partners of AAC users (Light, Dattilo, English, & Gutierrez, 1992). However, Carter & Maxwell (1998) contended that the skills of the communication partner are of equal importance as the AAC user's skills. In addition, many researchers have reported that family-centered intervention should be implemented in the AAC population (Bruno & Dribbon, 1998; Saito & Turnbull, 2007; Sigafoos et al., 2004). Unfortunately, few studies have directly measured communication partners' skills to measure progress or have found that communication partners have maintained the skills taught after training was completed.

This study sought to determine if an AAC communication partner training program was successful in increasing communication partners' use of communication facilitating strategies and improving communication partners' attitudes regarding AAC. In addition, this study investigated if communication partners maintained the communication facilitating strategies six weeks after the training concluded. Participants of the study were specifically trained to use the communication facilitating strategies aided language modeling, recasting, asking open-ended questions, and expectant delay with their AAC users. To measure participants' perceptions of AAC, participants were given an Initial Communication Partner Questionnaire and a Satisfaction Questionnaire, in which participants' responses were compared. The results of the study suggest that communication partner training can be successful in improving communication partners' perceptions of AAC, as well as communication partners' use and maintenance of communication facilitating strategies.