Purpose: This study aimed to explore how adults with severe acquired communication difficulties experience and make decisions about the communication methods they use. The primary objectives were to explore their perceptions of different communication methods, how they choose communication methods to use in different situations and with different communication partners, and what facilitates their decision-making. Method: A qualitative phenomenological approach was used. Data collection methods were face-to-face video-recorded interviews using each participant’s choice of communication method and e-mail interviews. The methodological challenges of involving participants with severe acquired communication disorders in research were addressed in the study design. Seven participants, all men, were recruited from a long-term care setting in a rehabilitation hospital. The data analysis process was guided by Colaizzi’s (1978) analytic framework. Results: Four main themes were identified: communicating in the digital age – e-mail and social media, encountering frustrations in using communication technologies, role and identity changes and the influences of communication technology and seeking a functional interaction using communication technologies. Conclusion: Adults with acquired communication difficulties find digital communication, such as e-mail and social media, and mainstream technologies, such as iPads, beneficial in communicating with others. Current communication technologies present a number of challenges for adults with disabilities and are limited in their communicative functions to support desired interactions. The implications for AAC technology development and speech and language therapy service delivery are addressed.
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- Acquired communication difficulties
- augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
- digital communication
- social media