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Sunday, May 28, 2017

School's Out For the Summer! What Does This Mean for Your AAC User?

Often times, AAC users get to practice using their language systems only while in school.  Sometimes, the AAC system is owned by the school and students aren't allowed to take them home - either for long Summer breaks or even for over the weekend!
So how are they supposed to continue to learn to communicate without the means?  Good question.  And one I often fight with districts about.

What can parents do?  The simplest answer is: keep on talking to your child, all the time.  Use whatever pictures you have on hand to create some communication pages.  Unfortunately, this isn't the best answer.  What are some alternatives?

1. Ask the school to take screen shots of the AAC system if it is an iPad app, and send you the pictures or - even better - a print out of the pages.  If you can only get the images, then print them out and take them to your local office supply store to be laminated.  Punch holes, add rings, and - Voila!  A communication book that looks like the  high tech device he usually uses.

2. Some device manufacturers offer pages of their systems to print out.  These are limited, and may not have all the pages you want, and won't be customized, but it can be better than nothing.  To customize, print out pictures of whatever people, places, or things you need and adhere with clear packing tape to the pages.

This core word communication board is from Assistiveware's website.  They are the makers of Proloquo2Go.

3. Many states have technology loan centers, where you can borrow devices to use.  There is often a limit on the length of time you can keep a device, but you might get lucky and have it for more than 30 days.  I know that here, in California, we have a number of programs; including the California A.T. Exchange program (CATE) with 13 centers across the state.  Check your state's possibilities.

4. Check out the internet.  There are some free image sites available where you can create communication pages for little or no money.  These sites come and go, so I am not going to list links here that might be obsolete by the time you read this.  

5. Before school ends and you have to let go of the device, take pictures of each screen with your phone/ camera.  Check that you don't have a glare from lights or flash to interfere with the picture.  Again, print out and make into a communication book.

In a pinch, I also have a free Core Word Communication Board available here.

I'd love to hear about any other options you've found!  In the meantime, have a great summer, and keep on talking!

Thanks to Assistiveware and Smarty Symbols; all rights reserved.


  1. If you have a tablet or phone the child can use, you can look into AAC apps like Cough Drop and try to get a similar setup to the school device on the app.

    1. Yes, for some families this is an option. I would want the app to be the same as the software or app the child uses at school.