The biggest thing people can do is to be honest when they don't understand me. It is extremely frustrating for me when people pretend to understand me. The other thing people can do is try to be patient and concentrate on what is being said.
Findings would suggest that students should be prepared to initiate interactions with instructors and peers to discuss course materials and assignment expectations, and be prepared to provide introductions that explain how communication partners can best understand the individual's use of the AAC system.
Participants reported a wide variety of writing demands in the college environment, including a need to write both to acquire knowledge (notetaking) and to display knowledge (essays and tests). Table 4 illustrates the data provided by participants on the writing demands they experienced in college.
All participants (n = 7) took class notes in college, using a variety of techniques. While all participants made use of a notetaker, three also used a tape recorder, three used their AAC systems to record information, three received outlines or notes from their instructor, and one also took his or her own notes with pencil and paper.
It appears that even when provided with a hard copy of class notes by a notetaker, participants still chose to be involved in the notetaking process; of the 7 participants, 6 used note takes in conjunction with AAC system notetaking and/or audiotaping. Of the 7 people who participated, 5 specified the content of what they wrote (i.e., what was different from what the notetakers wrote). The content of class notes taken by persons using AAC included key words (n = 2), key phrases (n = 2), questions (n =1), and references (n = 2). It has been suggested that not only the outcome of written notes, but also the process of taking notes affects learning (Einstein, Morris, & Smith, 1985). For example, the amount and type of information included in notes are related to learning, academic performance, and information recall (Baker & Lombardi, 1985; Einstein, Morris, & Smith, 1985). Participants may have elected to participate, if only minimally, in the belief that notetaking would have a positive impact on learning.
For the current study, all participants had short written assignments, class tests, and reports or papers in college. A similar range of writing requirements were found by Schultz-Muehling and Beukelman (1990) for a female graduate student who used AAC for writing. Although most of the writing activities involved the production of written text, a number of participants made reference to the expectation that they produce mathematical calculations (n = 4), as well as graphs and charts (n = 2). As noted by Michael Williams (an AAC user but not a participant in this study) writing activities involving more than the production of written text may pose special challenges for those who are unable to write using a pencil and paper, and who must rely upon technology:
When push comes to shove, math is a paper and pencil enterprise in which the pencil acts like a camera hooked into your mind ... you just can't do this on a typewriter or computer. All your time is focused on how to write out a problem rather than solve it. (posting to