The effect of voice output on AAC-supported conversations of persons with Alzheimer's disease

Melanie Fried-Oken, Charity Rowland, Glory Baker, Mayling Dixon, Carolyn Mills, Darlene Schultz, Barry Oken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine whether the presence or absence of digitized 1-2- word voice output on a direct selection, customized Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device would affect the impoverished conversations of persons with dementia. Thirty adults with moderate Alzheimer's disease participated in two personally relevant conversations with an AAC device. For twelve of the participants the AAC device included voice output. The AAC device was the FlexiboardTM containing sixteen messages needed to discuss a favorite autobiographical topic chosen by the participant and his/her family caregivers. Ten-minute conversations were videotaped in participants' residences and analyzed for four conversational measures related to the participants' communicative behavior. Results show that AAC devices with digitized voice output depress conversational performance and distract participants with moderate Alzheimer's disease as compared to similar devices without voice output. There were significantly more 1-word utterances and fewer total utterances when AAC devices included voice output, and the rate of topic elaborations/initiations was significantly lower when voice output was present. Discussion about the novelty of voice output for this population of elders and the need to train elders to use this technology is provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalACM Transactions on Accessible Computing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Augmentative and Alternative
  • Communication (AAC)
  • Dementia
  • Digitized speech synthesis
  • Language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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