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Lancioni, G., O’Reilly, M., Cuvo, A., Singh, N., Sigafoos, J. & Didden, R. (2007). PECS and VOCAs to enable students with developmental disabilities to make requests: An overview of the literature.

Research in Developmental Disabilities, 28, 468‐488
Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the literature dealing with the use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and voice output communication aids (VOCAs) for promoting the performance of requests by students with developmental disabilities. Computerized and manual searches were carried out to identify the studies published during the last 15 years (i.e., the period between 1992 and 2006 during which PECS and VOCA approaches became popular). Thirty‐seven studies were identified and then divided into three groups concerning the use of the PECS or equivalents, the use of VOCAs or equivalents, and the comparison of both these approaches, respectively. Of the 173 students involved in studies using the PECS or equivalents only three could be considered failures, while a fourth one did not progress in the program due to illness. Similarly, of the 39 students who used VOCAs or equivalents only three could be considered failures, while one was partly successful. Finally, of the 11 students involved in the comparisons between PECS and VOCAs none could be classified as a failure. The results are very encouraging but methodological concerns and the relatively limited use of the systems in terms of request items and request opportunities suggest caution. Caution may also be needed in interpreting the reported similarities between the two systems in usability and effectiveness.

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