The Effects of Color Cues on Typically Developing Preschoolers' Speed of Locating a Target Line Drawing: Implications for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Display Design Purpose This research examined how the presence of color in relation to a target within an augmentative and alternative communication array influenced the speed with which typically developing preschoolers located a target line drawing. Method Fifteen children over the age of 4 years (from 4;2 [years;months] to 5;4) ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2009
The Effects of Color Cues on Typically Developing Preschoolers' Speed of Locating a Target Line Drawing: Implications for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Display Design
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jennifer J. Thistle
    Emerson College, Boston
  • Krista Wilkinson
    Emerson College, Boston
  • Contact author: Jennifer J. Thistle. E-mail: jenthistle@gmail.com.
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2009
The Effects of Color Cues on Typically Developing Preschoolers' Speed of Locating a Target Line Drawing: Implications for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Display Design
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2009, Vol. 18, 231-240. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2009/08-0029)
History: Received April 11, 2008 , Accepted November 26, 2008
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2009, Vol. 18, 231-240. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2009/08-0029)
History: Received April 11, 2008; Accepted November 26, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 13

Purpose This research examined how the presence of color in relation to a target within an augmentative and alternative communication array influenced the speed with which typically developing preschoolers located a target line drawing.

Method Fifteen children over the age of 4 years (from 4;2 [years;months] to 5;4) and 15 children under the age of 4 years (2;10–3;11) participated. Participants were asked to find a target line drawing of foods (e.g., banana and tomato) among an array of 12. The reaction time of locating the target was measured across 4 conditions in which the foreground color and the background color of the line drawing were manipulated.

Results For all participants, line drawings featuring foreground color provided greater advantages in the speed of locating the target compared with drawings featuring only background color. Younger participants demonstrated faster reaction times when color was limited to the foreground.

Conclusion Clinicians should consider incorporating color in the foreground of the line drawing when constructing visual displays. Targets that contain only background color but no foreground color appear to have a negative effect on the speed with which younger children can locate a target. Further research is needed to determine the effects in children with disabilities.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a 2007 Master’s Student Research Funding Award from Emerson College awarded to the first author. Many thanks to the members of the Thesis Committee for their help shaping and guiding this research. Thanks to Lisa Gillespie and Joslin Latz for assistance with data analysis. We also acknowledge and thank the day care center staff who opened their classrooms to us for this research.
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