What is AAC? AAC is a set of tools and strategies that an individual uses to solve
everyday communicative challenges. Communication can take many forms
such as: speech, a shared glance, text, gestures, facial expressions,
touch, sign language, symbols, pictures, speech-generating devices, etc.
Everyone uses multiple forms of communication, based upon the context
and our communication partner. Effective communication occurs when the
intent and meaning of one individual is understood by another person.
The form is less important than the successful understanding of the
As part of my Cerebral Palsy I was unable to speak until I was 4 years old. Until that time I used a picture board. Mine was different but this gives you the basic idea of a picture board. I think mine probably had things like mom, dad, sister, brother, toilet, hungry, thirsty and other words that a young child would need to communicate.
Once I learned to speak through the help of a speech pathologist I no longer needed my picture board. It wasn't until I moved away from home and no longer had my parents to speak for me if people didn't understand that I started asking what devices were available to help me. For me I use my AAC device in situations where my speech may not be understood (such as going to a new doctor or a social services agency) or in situations where I know I may not be heard because of noise levels as in situations where I need to speak louder my speech becomes more distorted.
My first device was a Dynavox. This is a great AAC device but I found for a person such as myself who has an unsteady gait, the portability of the device was not what I was looking for as I found it quite heavy. It did however have all of the options I wanted such as the alphabet board for spontaneous conversation and also allowed me to program messages for use in places I may need to use the device.
My second device it was a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) with AAC software that had the same capabilities that the dynavox had but was alot more portable. I could place this, like a phone, in my bag or purse and take it out when needed.
A few years after I got my PDA I purchased a Samsung tablet. Originally I purchased the tablet just like a lot others to replace my laptop to have something more portable to have when I went away on trips. I decided it was time to combine the two devices and started searching for AAC software to use on the tablet. I asked for some ideas from my AAC clinic and they recommended I use a software program called "Predictable', it had all of the features that I needed and has been my chosen AAC software for about the last year and a half.
As I know a number of educators read my blog I thought I would relate this back to how having a speech impediments and/or having an AAC device can be effectively use in the classroom. For those students who have a difficult time getting their words out or who's speech may be unclear the best thing an educator can do is to give the student time to formulate their answers. If you know ahead of time what questions you will be asking, perhaps give the question to the student who may have difficulty speaking or using an AAC device time to form their answers.
Please feel free to ask me questions about any of my blogs.
For more information of people with communication disabilities please visit the 'Communication Disabilities Access Canada'.