Social validation of vocabulary selection : ensuring stakeholder relevance

21 Oct 2013

The vocabulary needs of individuals who are unable to spell their messages continue to be of concern in the fi eld of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Social validation of vocabulary selection has been suggested as one way to improve the effectiveness and relevance of service delivery in AAC. Despite increased emphasis on stakeholder accountability, social validation is not frequently used in AAC research. This paper describes an investigation of the social validity of a vocabulary set identifi ed in earlier research. A previous study used stakeholder focus groups to identify vocabulary that could be used by South African adults who use AAC to disclose their experiences as victims of crime or abuse. Another study used this vocabulary to create communication boards for use by adults with complex communication needs. In this current project, 12 South African adults with complex communication needs who use AAC systems used a 5-point Likert scale to score the importance of each of the previously identifi ed 57 vocabulary items. This two-step process of fi rst using stakeholder focus groups to identify vocabulary, and then having literate persons who use AAC provide information on social validity of the vocabulary on behalf of their peers who are illiterate, appears to hold promise as a culturally relevant vocabulary selection approach for sensitive topics such as crime and abuse.