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Data,Data , Data… What can it tell you?. Robin Hurd AAC I nstitute [email protected] Evidence based practice is what we are all about. How does this affect real world AAC use? Time is at a premium Finances are limited Many of us are wired to like language, not numbers .

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Data data data what can it tell you

Data,Data, Data… What can it tell you?

Robin Hurd AAC Institute

[email protected]

Evidence based practice is what we are all about
Evidence based practice is what we are all about.

  • How does this affect real world AAC use?

    • Time is at a premium

    • Finances are limited

    • Many of us are wired to like language, not numbers 

This presentation will include
This presentation will include…

What we may want to know from the data

Quick and easy ways to collect data

How the data affects what we do every day

We have questions the data has answers
We have questions, the data has answers!

What types of words IS the student using? Not using?

What kinds of verb forms does he use and understand?

What is the Mean Length of Utterance?

Exactly how well does he read and write?

Does anything I do during teaching sessions stick with him??!

Traditional data collection
Traditional data collection

  • The traditional way to collect a language sample involves tape recorders, pencils and paper and lots of time transcribing.

    • Advantages

      • you get both sides of the conversations

      • You can capture gestures and signs if using video

      • Done most easily during structured interventions


  • Takes a lot of time

  • Tougher to know how the person navigates the device

  • Very tough to get data on the communication rate

21 st c entury data collection
21stcentury data collection

  • The automated process:

    • the high tech communication device or a laptop computer collects data.

    • Data is sent to your computer for analysis


  • Some AAC devices have data collection built right in

  • A time stamp enables accurate information on communication rate

  • Huge time savings


Lack of information on the context

Lack of knowledge of signs, vocalizations or the communication partner’s comments

Solutions: this info can be typed into a U-lam data collection or jotted down in a journal.

Data collection terms
Data collection terms:

  • LAM stands for language activity monitor.

  • Data logging is the automated process that can take place within the AAC device.

  • U-LAM is software that can collect real time data directly onto your computer.

    • audio

    • typed input

    • PeRT is Performance Reporting software. Takes the raw data and produces a performance report in minutes.

Sample log file
Sample log file

0:13:49 SEM "I "

10:13:54 SEM "see "

10:14:11 SMP "belle "

10:14:20 SEM "and "

10:14:28 SMP "beast "

10:14:52 SEM ". "

10:15:20 SPE "S"

10:15:21 SPE "a"

10:15:24 SPE "w"

10:15:27 WPR "Saw "

10:15:50 CTL "saw "

10:16:20 SEM "and "

10:17:17 SEM "me "

10:17:24 SEM "I "

10:17:36 SEM "saw "

10:17:37 SEM "was "

10:17:47 SMP "belle "

10:17:56 SEM "and "

10:18:07 SMP "beast "

10:18:16 SMP "drama "

10:18:18 SEM ". "

10:18:39 SEM "Saw "

10:18:50 SMP "belle "

10:20:19 SEM "I "

10:20:26 SEM "looked "

10:20:36 SEM "looked "

10:20:42 SEM "saw "

What it tells us
What it tells us

The student is using simple sentence structure

The student is using the pronoun “I”

Use of verb tenses is in process

No articles

Some errors (maybe motor, maybe lack of skill on device)

Performance report
Performance report

Section 1: Utterance-Based Summary Measures

A.Total Utterances 9

B.Complete Utterances (%)100%

C.Method of Generating Utterances (SNUG %)100%

D.Mean Length of Utterance in Words (MLU-w)3.67

E.Mean Length of Utterance in Morphemes (MLU-m)4.33

F.Average Communication Rate (words/minute)3.90G.Peak Communication Rate (words/minute) 5.00

I see beast drama 

Section 2: Word-Based Summary Measures

H.Total Number of Words 33

I.Different Word Roots 13

J.Core Vocabulary (%)61%

K.Method of Generating Words (%)57.6% semantic compaction, 6% spelling/word prediction, 36.4% single meaning pictures

But this data was only during a therapy session
But this data was only during a therapy session!

If we only collect data from therapy sessions, we only know what happens in therapy!

beach scared wild

rice cheese please now

potato chips please now

Caleb want turn on tv show

Putting it all together
Putting it all together…

When in structured therapy settings, we see use of good sentence structure and pronouns.

It’s still not automatic. When in a hurry or emotionally upset, it goes out the window!

How the data affects literacy skills
How the data affects literacy skills

knowing that –ed endings indicate something that happened in the past is key to reading comprehension

Understanding who “you”, “I” and “me” refer to is also a key to understanding what you read.

Word order skills are important to writing.

Another example of great stuff happening
Another example of great stuff happening!

16:36:32 "I"

16:36:32 ""

16:36:33 "want"

16:36:33 ""

16:36:34 "help"

16:36:34 ""

16:36:37 "helped"

16:36:40 "Delete Word"

16:36:42 "help"

U se of letters
Use of letters

spelling errors:

  • Sntaclntasantaclaus

  • Johusa Joshua

  • Hlp help

Other important things we can learn from data
Other important things we can learn from data

Motivating topics

Changes in communication rate

Settings that inspire

Settings that provide barriers


The boy who filled up his daily log file talking about songs and guitars

The scanner whose communication rate was considerably worse in study hall.

kindergarten inclusion student whose MLU was much higher during push in therapy than otherwise.

The results of data
The results of data:

Knowing the potential

Knowing what works

knowing what doesn’t

able to specifically target the weak areas

Able to support literacy skills

Able to choose motivating topics for therapy