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Sunday, February 26, 2017

AAC System - Just What Are We Talking About?

A functional AAC system is a compilation of strategies that allow the individual to communicate effectively a variety of intents in a variety of contexts, with a variety of partners.
We need to recognize that different modes of communication are useful and necessary in different contexts while also remembering that we need to provide users with sufficient vocabulary - in whatever mode- to allow them to communicate genuine messages.
In terms of fostering the most “robust” AAC system, it is important to teach flexibility and have alternative means available for when the primary mode of communication is not practical at that time, or is unavailable for whatever reason: if the high tech device is broken or malfunctioning, for example. In addition, students might need to be able to use different communication modes in different social circumstances. For example, what might seem appropriate with friends in an informal interaction would be totally out of place interacting with a teacher, or in a formal social situation with adults. Similarly, a student who communicates with his familiar classroom aide using signs would need to have the flexibility to communicate via a different mode in the community with individuals who do not understand sign.

We all use a variety of modes of communication; the mode at any given instance being reliant on context and intent.  The same should be true of our nonverbal clients and students.  In fact, use of multiple component systems has been shown to be more effective and more natural (Erickson).

Any system must provide well organized language, both core and fringe words, and stability of vocabulary and location.  

So, when asked the question, “Does this individual need a low-technology system or a high-technology device?” the answer is “Yes.  All of the above.”  At all times we should remember to focus on the individual and their communication; NOT the technology.

Next week, I'll talk about some of the no-tech to high-tech options.  I have a fairly robust communication book in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers that focuses on core vocabulary, but with added fringe vocabulary for a variety of functions and topics.  You can find it here.

I also have a variety of topic boards that have core vocabulary as a base, with additional topical vocabulary and messages for purposes of protest, escape, or change. You can find them in the AAC section of my store.

In the meantime, Keep on Talking!

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