University of Cologne


Improvement of the provision with Augmentative and Alternative Comunication (AAC) devices and intervention

Project description:
People who cannot speak or who have difficulty understanding have complex communication needs (CCN) and may need alternative forms of communication such as a communication board or computers/ tablets with speech output. The current service-delivery of speech generating devices in Germany has a variety of problems. Some people with CCN are given inappropriate devices for example the device has no pre-stored vocabulary or it may be too difficult for the person to use. Additionally, there may be problems with servicing and maintenance of the device. Therefore, the project MUK, funded by the Federal Joint Committee’s Innovation Fund, aims to test a new AAC service-delivery model for people with CCN. The aim of the project is to develop a new service delivery model to improve the communication skills and the quality of life of people with CCN. The new service-delivery model goes beyond the existing service-delivery contract, which so far involves quality-assured diagnostic and counseling on speech generating devices, by adding the following components: case-management, training and if necessary, intervention therapy in using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Three specialized AAC consultation centers across Germany will provide this new service-delivery model. According to the complexity of the new service-delivery model and the heterogeneity of the persons with CCN a formative and summative evaluation of the service will be undertaken. The formative evaluation will provide data based on qualitative and quantitative assessments of the stakeholders’ skills and perspectives. The summative evaluation (a quasi-experimental longitudinal study) will examine the effectiveness of the new service-delivery model compared to the service-delivery in the existing contract and the standard service-delivery. To date, due to challenges with the data collection from people with CCN, case studies have been the main method used to evaluate AAC services. Therefore, this new study design is an important step towards developing evidence-based practice in AAC.

target group

people who are unable to speak because of congenital or acquired disabilities   

Funded by

Innovation Fund of the Federal Joint Committee

Project duration

01.12.17 - 30.11.20 (extended until 31.08.21)

Head of Project

Prof. Dr. Jens Boenisch, FBZ-UK - AAC Research and Consultation Center, University of Cologne

Prof. Dr. Lena Ansmann, Division for Organizational Health Services Research, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg

Project target

Improving the personalised care and the communication skills of people without verbal language, who rely on the measures of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (MUK)



Methodical procedure

The efficiency of the new form of care (extended selective contract) is compared in a study:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 1. to supply on the basis of the existing selective contract and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. to unregulated supply.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     For this purpose satisfaction, pragmatic communication skills and quality of life of the concerned are analysed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Furthermore, patients, their families and professional reference persons (therapists, teachers, counsultans) are asked about their experiences with the new form of care.

Project progress

description of new forms of care

precise description of the new form of care and implementation in the three competence centres       

implementation and evaluation of the new form of care

implementation and evaluation of the new form of care

external evaluation

formative and summative evaluation of the new form of care compared to standard care (with and without the selective contract) by an external evaluation team under the direction of Prof. Lena Ansmann (University Oldenburg)     

Project management and partner