Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative
Augmentative Communication
• Augmentative communication is an alternative way to help
students with language disorders use expressive language or
receptive language.
• Augmentative communication can be accomplished through
assistive technology devices such as computers or hand held
• Low technology such as picture communication systems can
also be used as augmentative communication.
• Augmentative communication is most often used with
students and who have significant disabilities impacting
language or those who do not have the ability to speak.
Severe language disabilities may include:
Learning disabilities in listening comprehension;
Learning disabilities in oral expression;
Communication disorders;
Developmental delays in communication;
Auditory processing disorders;
Traumatic brain injuries;
Mental retardation; (The term mental retardation, although still
used, is considered negative. Many parents and disability
advocates prefer the term mental disability and "person first"
Deafness and hardness of hearing;
Aphasia and
Senior citizens with health issues or language disorders.
1970s, legislation began requiring that all children received educational services. As a
result, many children with disabilities entered the school system, compelling classroom
teachers to find ways in which to assist communicative exchanges.
1980s, AAC became an area of professional specialization. Articles, newsletters, and
textbooks on the matter were published as well as the first international conferences. In
1983 the International Society for Alternative and Augmentative Communication.(ISAAC)
was founded
1992, the Communication Bill of Rights, stated that all individuals with severe
communication disabilities have a right to use AAC devices at all times as well as a right to
information and the opportunity to have and make choices.
Since the 1990s, there has been an increase in in-class and natural education techniques,
as opposed to traditional pull-out methods, which has led professionals to seek ways for
children with disabilities to participate more comprehensively and successfully in
classroom activities.
first use of augmentative strategies with the deaf, its modern inception began in
the 1950s.
At this time, AAC devices were mainly implemented for those whose oral and
laryngeal anatomy was damaged by surgical procedures such as laryngectimis and
During the 1960s in the United States, as well as the deaf community's pursuit of
the right to be educated using American Sign Language (ASL), helped increase
public and governmental awareness of the issues related to AAC.
During the late 1960s, manual sign languages were used with
individuals who had both hearing and cognitive impairments.
AAC devices were also used with individuals where intelligible
speech would likely never be possible, including those with severe
dysarthria, cerebral palsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
However, in most cases AAC strategies were only employed after
traditional speech therapy had failed, as many felt hesitant to
provide non-speech intervention to those who might be able to
learn to communicate verbally.
• The methods of AAC will vary and be
personalized to meet the needs of the
individual. Many forms of AAC will have an
assistive technology component which will
come in both high tech or low tech strategies.
You don't need special skills for understanding
an individual who is using ACC as the
processes are self-explanatory.
Process Methods
• 3 Methods
– A method to represent
figures(objects, words, drawings,
symbols, photographs, line drawings
etc. )
– A method to select symbols (point
directly or use a scanning device such
as a head pointer )
– A method to transmit the Message
(visual or auditory output)
Method 1:
Method to represent Symbols
• Symbols are pictures or gestures that represent something.
The symbols are pictures that represent words, letters for
• Things that need be considered when using symbols are
the student chronological age, cognitive , visual and
physical skills.
• Other things that should be considered are the vocabulary
and what words are most important for the students to
– How to participate in an conversation, initiation,
change, get out of conversations.
– Things needed for school, asking questions, requesting
information, social peer communication.
• These symbols can be low tech or high tech. Low teach are
those that do not require batteries or electricity.
Method 2:
Method to Select Symbols
• There are two main methods for AAC users to select symbols.
• 1) A person may directly select a desired symbol from available symbols.
This may be aided through the use of mechanical pointers, switches, light
beams, prostheses; or unaided through the use of blinking, eye gaze, body
movements, pointing, or symbol removal.
• 2) Individuals with limited mobility may use a scanning selection mode to
speed up the selection process. In a scanning mode possible choices are
offered in sequence, either one item at a time or in a row-column or block
• Both of the above methods may use some type of input device (such as a
switch, mouse or adapted keyboard) to assist the person in making their
selection. Some methods/devices utilize levels or pages to divide possible
vocabulary choices. To go from one level to another a person may use low
tech means by going from page to page, or high tech means in which the
level/page is switched electronically.
Method 3:
Method to transmit the Message
• AAC users may convey their message through visual and/or auditory output.
With manual signs/gestures or communication boards the listener must
watch the individual to interpret the message. Many electronic devices
provide voice output (either computer generated or recorded) or a written
display. AAC aids fall into three categories:
– 1) Simple Systems include low tech aids and techniques, such as
communication boards and gestural systems,
2) Dedicated Devices serve the purpose of communication only.
3) Multipurpose Systems are those that serve for more than just
communication. They are designed to change functions easily, and serve
educational, vocational, and/or recreational purposes.
• AAC devices range in complexity. They may include one symbol at a time
that is available to the user, or may be more complex devices which use a
sequence of icons to represent different concepts.
How are AAC assigned?
• Comprehensive evaluation of a user's unique abilities and
requirements is necessary in order to implement appropriate
intervention and match the user with the most appropriate
AAC device. AAC evaluations are conducted by specialized
multidisciplinary teams consisting of a speech-language
pathologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, social
worker and a physician.[
• The assessment team conducts interviews with the user, family
members, caregivers and/or teachers in order to obtain
additional information about the user's behavior and skills in
different settings. The team also assesses the user's motor
abilities, communication skills, cognition and vision
ACC Assigned cont.…
• During the intervention process, the occupational therapist assists
with the positioning and seating adaptations so that the individual
can have the best access to the AAC system. An example would be
when someone might need a key guard on the top of a keyboard or
touch screen to keep from hitting the wrong button. The
physiotherapist works on motor development training. The speechlanguage pathologist's role is to teach the user and their
communication partners how to use the AAC device. In selecting
and adapting the AAC device for the user's individual needs, the
speech-language pathologist's goal is to ensure that the AAC device
can be used in different contexts and with different communication
Augmentative and alternative communication is generally slower than speech.
Rate enhancement strategies increase the user's rate of output, and as a result
enhance the efficiency of communication.
There are two main options for increasing the rate of communication for AAC
devices: encoding and prediction.
– Encoding is a technique permitting an AAC user to produce an entire word,
sentence or phrase using only one or two activations of their AAC system.
– "Iconic encoding" sequences of icons (picture symbols) are combined to
produce words or phrases In numeric.
– keyboard text-to-speech generating device
– Prediction is a rate enhancement strategy in which the AAC device attempt to
predict the letter, word or phrase being written by the user. The user can then
select the correct prediction without needing to write the entire word. Word
prediction software may determine the choices to be offered based on their
frequency in language, association with other words, past choices of the user,
or grammatical suitability.
– Examples of this in every day life are your cell phones.
Teaching how to use AAC
 Use the daily routine as a framework for planning for the use of AAC
 Think about the routine that the child will be using in your classroom.
This will be the framework for what types of communication the child
 Use messages that are motivating for the student
 When using messages that are motivating for the students, use messages
of what the child will need and want to say. To get Ideas listen to
conversation during play time, lunch time, and in class.
 Model the use of the devices/boards by pointing to the appropriate messages
as you speak.
 Everyday experiences are linked to words by the teacher/ adults in a
child's life. It is the teacher/ adult who models the use of oral language
(“You want a block?") and also makes the words meaningful in the child’s
 The teacher will model how to use the board when speaking to the child.
 It will take time but with consistency the student will began to use the
device as well.
 Give cues (expectant pause, facial expression, gesture, body language, etc.) and
plenty of wait time for student responses
 Allow students to response with facial expression, gestures or body language.
This could be a wink, the direction that they look, finger tap, or anything that
answers the question.
 Wait time should be between 10 and 15 seconds. This lets the student or child
know that their response is important.
 Practice the prompt hierarchy
 A prompting hierarchy method of assisting students in learning a skill. The
prompts are from least to most.
 Build empowerment, initiative, and ownership
 This is when you encourage the student about what the device will do for
 You will then present the device and talk about the device with the students
and give the students the device to keep with them at all times to show
ownership of the device.
 Provide immediate and consistent feedback to a student's
communication attempts
 When the student began to use the device, provide feedback each time they use the
device. This could be any feedback , even if it is to say “no, it is not time for play”.
 Set the stage for communication to occur (sabotage)
 This is when you set up your room or any situation that will influence communication.
 Keep devices/boards accessible and within easy reach
 It is good to keep the devices/boards in an area where they will be used the most.
 Use a symbol system according to the student's needs (objects,
miniature objects, photos, drawings, product labels, or Picture
Communication Symbols)
 You can use objects that can also help student to make choices.
 All Strategies are suggested from
A beginning-level device that
introduces a non-speaking person to
electronic voice aids. ChatBox can be
programmed for the appropriate
vocabulary, voice and native tongue
of the user. By organizing vocabulary
around activities and situations, the
communicator is provided with
sufficient vocabulary for use at home,
school, work or play. This newest
model includes more than three times
the memory of earlier models, plus
additional battery life, higher quality
speech and row/column scanning as
an additional input technique. 495.00
The Tech/Speak
$1,095.00 –
• The Tech/Speak with Environmental
Controls combines augmentative
communication with the added
functionality of environmental control,
providing an added level of
empowerment to the user.
• Can control several electrical devices
and/or light fixtures. Within each of
four on-off combinations, up to eight
devices can be programmed to
activate simultaneously.
• The device functions through radio
frequency. This device has real voice
audio reproduction.
Not including
eye max
$ 7000
Fully-functional, integrated
augmentative and alternative (AAC)
device and develop an eye tracking
system that can be used to access
its features.
The Vmax is designed to withstand
moisture, temperature and the
impact of daily use, and provides
an array of access methods to
users of AAC.
The EyeMax accessory is the
newest addition to this variety of
access methods for use with the
The EyeMax System’s size and
wide range of positioning options
allow a user to communicate while
maintaining the field of view
necessary to navigate a wheelchair
and effectively interact with a
communication partner.
The DynaWrite is one of several
• type-and-talk AAC devices from
• everyday computer-style keyboard and
bright screen display that have users
typing and talking within minutes of
opening the box.
• Superior word prediction features,
multiple voices, and optional scanning
methods combine to make the
DynaWrite suitable for individuals with a
wide range of motor skills.
• DynaWrite can connect with your PC,
enable you to talk on the phone, and act
as a universal remote control for
common household appliances.
• Dynavox Website
• Mimami Dade Preschool website
• Augmentative Communication News (Copyright 2009)
Newsletter Volume 21 number 4
• Peters-Johnson, Cassandra Language, Speech, & Hearing
Services in Schools; Jul95, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p295, 8p
Ann Logsdon Augmentative Communication - Augmentative
Communication Systems taken from website

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