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IATSL develops assistive technology that is adaptive, flexible, and intelligent, enabling users to participate fully in their daily lives. Learn more about our research

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Kelly Spence

Masters Candidate

Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (University of Toronto)
(416) 946-8573


Imagine losing your ability to speak or to understand a language you have used all your life. This is the experience of people with aphasia. Over 30,000 people in Ontario are affected by aphasia, losing their ability to communicate as a result of a stroke or brain injury. To enable communication, health care funding is available in Ontario to people with aphasia for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices that display textual or visual cues. Prescribing an AAC device is paramount to optimizing functional communication for this population; however, the categorically based layouts generally used on AAC devices do not always facilitate communication. Kelly’s research will compare three different AAC screen layouts to explore which is most effective for people with aphasia to functionally communicate. Results of this study can assist clinicians in prescribing an AAC device with a visual screen layout that maximizes the abilities of people with aphasia so that they are independent, functional communicators and social participants in everyday living.

This research project is a joint collaboration between researchers at the University of Toronto and clinicians at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.