A “Visitor in the Class”: Marginalization of Students Using AAC in Mainstream Education Classes

  • Jørn ØstvikEmail author
  • Susan Balandin
  • Borgunn Ytterhus


The importance of relationships and social inclusion for students in mainstream education is recognized by scholars as well as in national and international policy. However, there is limited research on the friendships and social life of students who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in mainstream educational systems. This study explored the views of social life among students using AAC in the Norwegian mainstream, public school. Semi-structure interviews were conducted with 7 students using AAC in first to fourth grade, 10 fellow students, 6 parents, and 18 staff. Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, three organizational and structural premises for friendship between students using AAC and fellow students were identified. Students using AAC had different and weaker extrinsic premises for developing friendship compared with fellow students in class, and results revealed that they had a visiting role towards students in the mainstream class. The schools’ educational practice violated both national and international perspectives on inclusion.


Inclusion Marginalization Children School Friendship Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) 



This manuscript is part of the first author’s doctoral dissertation. The authors have no financial gain of the article and the research is conducted without any grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

A written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study on the basis of an invitation letter to participate in the study. Students received a custom written invitation. Additionally, oral information about the invitation was provided by parents. Consent from students was obtained by parents forwarding the students’ consent. The names of the participants are fictitious.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Work and Health ScienceNTNU - Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of HealthDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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