I’ve learned a lot about AAC technologies over the last 15 years. I often say that I don’t know everything, but I can probably tell you how and where to learn more. Because I provide direct technology support and training to educational teams for many students with impaired language and communication skills, I have gathered a wealth of forms, tip sheets, tutorial resources, assessment materials, etc. for use in the school setting. I share these with teachers and treating speech therapy clinicians across my service area, as well as anybody looking to learn more. I hope these resources are helpful to those working (or planning to work) in the school setting with children who need or use AAC supports. There are SO many more than these, but this is where I’d like to start.
It’s always exciting to see kids with limited speech and language abilities respond to the use of visually supported communication tools and strategies. Images are easy to recognize and recall, making the transference of information universal…no matter what the ‘language’ might be! It’s easy to understand something visual, even if we can’t read the script or verbalize its name or meaning.
I routinely help teachers and speech therapy staff create adaptive communication supports and modify classrooms to create a language immersion environment for young learners. Unfortunately, just talking about augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can scare the life from those unfamiliar with the process! While the terminology may sound intimidating, it really isn’t that complex for this particular group. In the next few posts, I’d like to offer some information, ideas, and resources to help those in the school setting alleviate their fears and elevate their enthusiasm for using AAC in the classroom with young students!
Mo Buti and our session attendees have been sharing some amazing suggestions for teaching communication skills to non-verbal students who also have visual impairments. Here are a few of those ideas and resources!
TACTILE CONNECTIONS KIT: SYMBOLS FOR COMMUNICATION This kit helps teachers create a tactile card system that is individualized for visually impaired and blind learners who have additional disabilities and/or lack a formal means of communication or literacy. The tactile symbols are created when part of an object is mounted on a hand-sized card representing core vocabulary categories (e.g. people, places, actions, objects, etc.). This kit provides some of the essential components that assist in a system’s construction and application.
The PERKINS site offers some great resources for teaching communication to visually impaired students.
Tactile books are used to teach literacy, so why not pair them with separate cards containing the same key words, characters, etc. found in the books to reinforce language learning? Pinterest (everybody’s favorite collecting site) offers a wealth of ideas for CREATING TACTILE BOOKS that can be paired with tactile communication supports. Here is another link to MORE TACTILE BOOKS FOR LANGUAGE AND LITERACY.
Need a way to spread out picture supports and get them up at eye-level for those using Eye Gaze for communication? This is a cheap and easy DIY project that comes together in a matter of minutes. Made out of PVC Pipe, a few connector joints and a few stripes of Velcro, this particular frame is great for those who travel to different schools/locations because it is easily taken apart and put back together (as long as you have labeled the pieces the first time you assembled it!) Of course, it can be glued together if you wont need to disassemble it. Also, be sure to ask them to cut the pieces in the sizes that you need at the hardware store, unless you happen to have a PVC cutter laying around in your garage! This will make assembly that much faster when you get it all home. Here are the directions: Eye Gaze Frame made out of PVC Pipe Our version of the PVC Eye Gaze frame is taken from a previous idea by Linda Burkhart.