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Dataset: Requests for Assistance with Adaptive Switches from Individuals with Severe Communication Impairments, 2007 to 2012 ()

Basic Information
Dataset Full Name Requests for Assistance with Adaptive Switches from Individuals with Severe Communication Impairments, 2007 to 2012
Dataset Acronym

The Requests for Assistance with Adaptive Switches from Individuals with Severe Communication Impairments study is one of the three projects in the Communication of People with Mental Retardation (MR) , 2006 to 2012 Series, which focuses on identifying participant variables that predict success in increasing communication skills of individual with intellectual disabilities. The study data were collected to show how children and adults with profound multiple impairments can learn to request assistance with adaptive switches and examine the change from pre-intentional to intentional symbolic communication.

The study examined 77 respondents, ages 2 through 71, and administered three assessments:

  • Communication Complexity Scale (CCS) up to 3 points in time
  • Mullen Scales of Early Learning (n=22)
  • Functional vision assessment (n=76)
Key Terms

Assistive technology (AT), Communication disability, Multiple disability

Study Design Longitudinal
Data Type(s) Administrative
Sponsoring Agency/Entity

United States Department of Health and Human Services:

National Institutes of Health

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Health Conditions/Disability Measures
Health Condition(s)
Disability Measures

Criteria for participant inclusion in study: Communication impairment, Visual disability, Intellectual disability, Special equipment use/assistive technology 

Measures/Outcomes of Interest

Communication, Assistive technology 

Sample Population

Respondents were convenience sampled through their participation in a requesting-via adaptive-switch intervention.  Respondents were between the ages 2 to 71 years with severe and multiple disabilities and suspected vision impairments. 

Sample Size/Notes

77 respondents, ages 2 through 71

Unit of Observation



North America


United States

Geographic Coverage

California, Kansas, and Washington

Geographic Specificity


Data Collection
Data Collection Mode


  • Coded on-site observation
  • Coded video observation
  • Cognitive assessment test 
Years Collected


Data Collection Frequency

The Communication Complexity Scale (CCS) was administered up to three points in time:

  1. To participants who were pre-intentional communicators. (n=65)
  2. When they were identified as being on the cusp between pre-intentional and intentional communication. (n=20)
  3. When participants were identified as "learners" and could express preferences using switches and other means. (n=7)
Strengths and Limitations

Up to three measurements of the Communication Complexity Scale (CCS) were administered over time.

Unique sample of individuals with severe multiple disabilities and vision impairments.


Sample of convenience may not be representative of the population as a whole.

Data Details
Primary Website


Data Access


Data Access Requirements

Public Use Dataset (de-identified)

Data Use agreement, No cost (Restricted use version-contains original demographic information)

Summary Tables/Reports

Codebook contains raw frequencies:


Data Components
Similar/Related Dataset(s)

This study is one of the three projects in the Communication of People with MR, 2006 to 2012 Series. The other two studies in this series are:

Selected Papers
Other Papers

ICPSR related publications list:


Selected publications:

Saunders, Muriel D., Saunders, Richard R.. Teaching individuals to signal for assistance in a timely manner. Behavioral Interventions.27, (4), 193-206.2012.



Saunders, Muriel D., Saunders, Richard R.. Innovation of a reinforcer preference assessment with the difficult to test. Research in Developmental Disabilities.32, (5), 1572-1579.2011.



For more information on the Communication Complexity Scale see:

Brady, N., Fleming, K., Thiemann-Bourque, K., Olswang, L., Dowden, P., Saunders, M., and Marquis, J. (2012). Development of the Communication Complexity Scale. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 21(1), 16-28.


Related Repositories

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The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

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Acknowledgements: This tool was developed through the efforts of William Erickson and Arun Karpur, and web designers Jason Criss and Jeff Trondsen at Cornell University. Many thanks to graduate students Kyoung Jo Oh and Yeong Joon Yoon who developed much of the content used in this tool.

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