Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



Purpose: This study increased our understanding of how aphasia may affect interpretation of road signs. Background: Despite aphasia’s theoretical effects on road sign comprehension and promising initial findings in studies that investigated driving and aphasia, the literature examining aphasia and road signs has been sparse. Research has shown that aphasia may have some effect on road sign interpretation. However, more study is needed regarding both accuracy and response time to road sign interpretation, which are equally important for safe driving. Methods: This was a prospective, between group study that used data collected from a larger study by Donovan, Savage, Varnado, & Brown (2014). This study aimed to determine if presence of aphasia had an effect on the accuracy and response time of road sign interpretation in a sample of 10 adults with aphasia versus 10 adults in neurologically normal control group. The participants were asked to choose the correct interpretation of pictures of road signs from three choices. A MANOVA was conducted to compare the effect of aphasia on accuracy and response time (α = .05). Results: Aphasia significantly impacted accuracy and response time of road sign interpretation (V = .996, F(2, 17) = 8.446, p = .003). The aphasia group was (a) less accurate (M = 28.60) than the neurological normal control group (M = 32.30; p = .001); and (b) slower (M = 2777.62 ms) than the neurological normal control group (M = 1211.58 ms; p = .036). Visual inspection of the data also showed the aphasia group was less accurate and had longer response times interpreting signs that were linguistically dense or had greater symbolic complexity. Discussion: The role of healthcare providers, including speech-language pathologists, in advising people with aphasia about return to driving is not well documented. The present study suggests aphasia may have an effect on driving and therefore, speech-language pathologists may serve an important role in helping people with aphasia make informed choices about return to driving. More study, however, is needed to investigate the profile of deficits that contribute to poor road sign interpretation and to build upon and support the present study’s results.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Donovan, Neila J.