The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 99–116 | Cite as

Selecting a response form for nonverbal persons: Facilitated communication, pointing systems, or sign language?

  • Mark L. Sundberg


The three major types of augmentative communication for nonverbal persons consist of writing (or typing), pointing, and signing. These alternative response forms are examined in terms of their advantages and disadvantages for establishing effective verbal behavior. In addition, these systems are examined using the concepts from Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior (i.e., mand, tact, intraverbal, and autoclitic). The results of this analysis show that sign language has the most advantages and the fewest disadvantages, and more closely parallels speech in terms of the verbal operants. Although, the current trend is to favor facilitated communication (typing) and pointing systems, both of these response forms have several disadvantages that impede the development of the verbal operants. It is suggested that for many nonverbal individuals sign language is a better alternative response form, and has a better chance of improving speech.


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark L. Sundberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavior Analysts, Inc.DanvilleUSA

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