Beyond AAC Awareness Month
s AAC Awareness month concludes, I
reflected on the impact an “awareness” month might have on improving the
education, future employment opportunities, service delivery and Speech
Generating Device (SGD) funding for children who need AAC technology, services
and supports. When I opened my inbox
this morning, one message caused me to question the value of increasing AAC
awareness without addressing the knowledge and skills for AAC
decision-making. Someone sent me a “tweeted”
question about recommending an App for AAC.
Is this the question that we want to ask?
--Tweeted by an SLP in a school.
As ridiculous as this question may seem, I find the “tweet”
even more incredible having been sent by a member of the
American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). The answer will influence the life experience of the children who need AAC
in this school district and perhaps beyond.
If the sender tallies up the tweeted replies to arrive at an
App with the most recommendations, then ALL children who need AAC in that
school district likely will be receiving poor AAC interventions. However, the answer is obvious if the replies
focus on the principle of language first and technology second,
and the expectation that speech-language clinicians apply the principles of
evidence-based practice. NO ONE APP CAN DO THE JOB!
Parents have to be extremely concerned that school
administrators are asking for a one App solution for providing AAC assistive
technology. Parents should be even more
concerned that a speech-language clinician would seek an answer. This scenario places a burden on parents to
investigate and query how decisions about their child’s AAC interventions and
education are being made. Most parents are advocates
for their child, but in today’s climate of economic
retrenchment and false confidence in iPads as AAC
technology, queries about the
evidence are imperative.
AAC Awareness month is not enough to change the knowledge
and attitudes of many professionals in decision making
positions. For the best life experience
for their child, parents need information, training, and support to know the
right questions to ask about matching their child with an AAC solution. In some cases, parents may be more knowledgeable
about how to consider and evaluate the software and hardware of an AAC
intervention then the professionals whose primary concern may be ease of use
and cost. Parents always know the most
about their child’s abilities, skills, and potential.
The AAC Institute’s mission to provide the tools, resources,
and services that result in the most effective communication for children and
adults who rely on AAC translates to supporting parents through the labyrinth
that develops around funding AAC intervention.
The news media created excitement about tablet technology that has
influenced thinking about the benefit of Apps as a low cost alternative for
children who rely on AAC. However, the
availability of commercial technology does not lessen the importance of highly
specialized knowledge and skills needed for gathering the evidence and
providing clinical and educational services that result in the highest
performance communication. On the
contrary, the proliferation of
tablet technology and apps heightens the importance of informed decision-making
and experienced specialists.
Thirty–some years ago, I entered the emerging field of AAC
with excitement that AAC interventions would create for children on my caseload
in the future. Today, I’m
equally energized by the questions circulating about AAC because of the
attention the media has shaped around the iPad and Apps. Parents have the opportunity to turn
attention away from technology and towards performance and outcomes
they desire for their child. I hope that
this month’s Parents’ Corner column motivates readers
to seek the information
and supports needed to shift the discussion from schools making an easy
solution on purchasing an App to AAC teams finding the intervention that is in
the best interest of the child who needs AAC to succeed.
Let me suggest some
AAC Institute Resources:
●Check out the AAC Institute on Facebook
●Communicate with the AAC Parents Google Group http://groups.google.com/group/AACParents?pli=1
●Stayed Informed on Exclusive Preferred Provider Arrangements http://www.aacinstitute.org/funding/PreferredProviders.html
● Make sure you’re fully
informed about AAC Language Representation Methods at http://www.aacinstitute.org/Resources/ProductsandServices/ConsideringAACLRMs/index.html
AAC ConsumerNet ----- Check it out!
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