The Role of Color Cues in Facilitating Accurate and Rapid Location of Aided Symbols by Children With and Without Down Syndrome Purpose This research examined how the color distribution of symbols within a visual aided augmentative and alternative communication array influenced the speed and accuracy with which participants with and without Down syndrome located a target picture symbol. Method Eight typically developing children below the age of 4 years, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 01, 2008
The Role of Color Cues in Facilitating Accurate and Rapid Location of Aided Symbols by Children With and Without Down Syndrome
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Krista Wilkinson
    Emerson College, Boston, and University of Massachusetts Medical School, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, Waltham, MA
  • Michael Carlin
    University of Massachusetts Medical School, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center
  • Jennifer Thistle
    Emerson College
  • Contact author: Krista Wilkinson, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Emerson College, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116. E-mail: krista_wilkinson@emerson.edu.
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 01, 2008
The Role of Color Cues in Facilitating Accurate and Rapid Location of Aided Symbols by Children With and Without Down Syndrome
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2008, Vol. 17, 179-193. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/018)
History: Received May 10, 2007 , Accepted September 14, 2007
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2008, Vol. 17, 179-193. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/018)
History: Received May 10, 2007; Accepted September 14, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 14

Purpose This research examined how the color distribution of symbols within a visual aided augmentative and alternative communication array influenced the speed and accuracy with which participants with and without Down syndrome located a target picture symbol.

Method Eight typically developing children below the age of 4 years, 8 typically developing children over the age of 4 years, and 10 children with Down syndrome participated. Participants were asked to find a target line drawing among an array of 12. Line drawings represented either foods (e.g., grapes, cherries), clothing (e.g., a red shirt, a yellow shirt), or activities (e.g., soccer, swimming). In one condition, symbols that shared a color were clustered together, creating a subgroup within which to search. In another condition, symbols that shared a color were distributed across the display, allowing each to appear individually. Dependent measures were accuracy and speed of finding the target symbol.

Results Clustering same-color symbols facilitated the speed of locating the target for all participants, and facilitated search accuracy in the younger preschool children and participants with Down syndrome. These effects held when targets were foods, clothing, or activities.

Conclusion Clinicians should consider the internal color of visual symbols when constructing aided symbol displays, at least for children with Down syndrome. Further research is needed on a number of dimensions, however, including visual processing in other etiological categories, the role of background color, and the relation of color to other stimulus dimensions.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a 2006 New Century Scholars Research Grant to the first author from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Many thanks to the families and day care center staff who generously opened their homes and classrooms to us for these studies.
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