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Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): Unlocking Communication Possibilities- Part 1

Welcome to a comprehensive post on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): Unlocking Communication Possibilities. This lengthy, yet heartfelt write-up covers everything I could think of in the most relatable way possible. AAC is one of the topics close to my heart as both of my boys utilize AAC devices. Because of the amount of information that's being covered in this article, I decided to divide it in to 3 parts. So join me as we delve into the world of AAC and explore the incredible ways it empowers communication. I hope you are able to utilize some of the info I share with you to help your own children on their language journey.

young boy in play shirt holding stylus looking curiously at woman with glasses

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices are powerful tools that help individuals with communication difficulties express themselves. In this post, we will explore AAC devices, their benefits, and resources for obtaining them at little to no cost.

  1. Understanding AAC Device A. What exactly is the definition of an AAC?

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices are tools and strategies used to support individuals with communication difficulties. These devices supplement or replace spoken language, enabling individuals to express their thoughts, needs, and desires effectively.

There are several types of AAC devices:

Communication boards: These can be physical or digital boards that contain pictures, symbols, or words. Users can point or select the appropriate symbols to communicate their messages.

Speech-generating devices: These electronic devices have pre-programmed or customizable buttons that produce spoken output when activated. Users can press the buttons corresponding to words or phrases to generate speech.

Mobile apps: AAC apps designed for smartphones or tablets offer a portable and versatile solution. These apps often include customizable symbol libraries, text-to-speech capabilities, and other features to facilitate communication.

B. How do AAC devices support individuals with various communication challenges?

AAC devices provide crucial support for individuals with different communication challenges.

They help:

• Individuals with speech impairments: Those who have difficulty speaking or producing clear speech can use AAC devices as a means to communicate. AAC devices allow them to express their thoughts and interact with others effectively.

• Individuals with language disorders: AAC devices support individuals with language difficulties, such as expressive or receptive language disorders. By using symbols or pre-programmed messages, they can convey their ideas and understand others’ messages.

•Individuals on the autism spectrum: AAC devices can assist individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in expressing their needs, reducing communication barriers, and facilitating social interactions.

• Individuals with motor disabilities: AAC devices can be adapted to accommodate individuals with motor impairments. For example, eye-tracking technology or switch access methods can enable individuals with limited mobility to operate AAC devices

2 children in blue shirts lying other stomachs looking at a tablet

C. What are the benefits of AAC in promoting communication, social interaction, and independence?

AAC devices offer numerous benefits that promote communication, social interaction, and independence:

Enhanced communication: AAC devices provide an alternative means of communication for individuals who have difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language. They give a voice to those who may struggle to express themselves verbally, enabling effective communication with others.

• Improved social interaction: AAC devices facilitate interactions with peers, family, and professionals. They enable individuals to initiate and maintain conversations, express emotions, share thoughts, and participate actively in social settings.

• Increased independence: AAC devices empower individuals to become more independent in their daily lives. By using AAC, individuals can make choices, express their preferences, and advocate for their needs, leading to a greater sense of autonomy and control.

• Access to education and learning: AAC devices support educational participation by enabling individuals to communicate with teachers, classmates, and engage in academic activities. They promote inclusion and support learning across various environments.

Overall, AAC devices play a crucial role in enabling effective communication, promoting social interactions, and fostering independence for individuals with communication challenges.

2. Exploring AAC Options:

A. Here is an overview of some of the more popular AAC devices, apps, and software available in the market:

AAC Devices:

1. Tobii Dynavox: Known for their speech-generating devices, Tobii Dynavox offers a range of AAC devices with eye-tracking technology and various input methods.

2. Proloquo2Go: An AAC app designed for iOS devices, Proloquo2Go provides customizable symbol-based communication for individuals with communication difficulties.

3. Saltillo: developed several popular AAC software systems, including NovaChat and TouchChat. They also manufacture speech generating devices such as the Via Pro & Via Mini. Some features include customizable symbol-based vocabularies, text-to-speech functionality, word prediction, and various access methods to cater to different physical abilities.

black dynavox sample

AAC Apps:

4. TouchChat: TouchChat is a versatile AAC app available for iOS and Android devices, offering symbol-based and text-based communication options.

5. Avaz: Avaz is an AAC app designed for children with autism, providing a user-friendly interface, symbol-based communication, and visual supports.

6. LAMP Words for Life: LAMP (Language Acquisition through Motor Planning) is an AAC app that focuses on motor planning and offers a systematic language development approach.

7. AACorn: AACorn is an AAC app that combines symbol-based communication with visual scene displays, supporting individuals with diverse communication needs.

AAC Software:

8. Snap Core First: Developed by Tobii Dynavox, Snap Core First is a software solution for creating communication boards and supports symbol-based communication.

9. Boardmaker: Boardmaker by Tobii Dynavox is a software program that allows users to create personalized communication boards using symbols, photos, or text.

10. Widgit Software: Widgit offers a range of software solutions, including InPrint and SymWriter, for creating symbol-supported materials, visual schedules, and communication resources.

**Please note that the popularity and availability of AAC devices, apps, and software may vary over time and across regions. It’s always recommended to research and consult with professionals to find the most suitable AAC solution for specific needs and preferences.**

B. Can you compare features, pricing, and compatibility of these devices? Here's a comparison of the features, pricing, and compatibility of the AAC solutions mentioned above:

1. Tobii Dynavox:

- Features: Tobii Dynavox offers a range of AAC devices and software with eye-tracking technology, symbol-based vocabularies, text-to-speech, and access methods tailored to different needs.

- Pricing: Pricing varies depending on the specific device or software you choose. For accurate pricing information, it's best to visit the Tobii Dynavox website or contact their sales team

- Compatibility: Tobii Dynavox provides AAC solutions that run on dedicated devices as well as software applications for different platforms like Windows, iOS, and Android.

2. Proloquo2Go:

- Features: Proloquo2Go is an iOS-based AAC app with customizable symbol-based vocabularies, word prediction, natural-sounding voices, and support for multiple languages.

- Pricing: Proloquo2Go is a paid app available on the App Store, and the price is subject to change. For the latest pricing details, it's best to check the App Store or the developer's website.

- Compatibility: Proloquo2Go is compatible with iOS devices like iPads and iPhones.

prologue to go sample board on a computer

3. NovaChat:

- Features: NovaChat is a series of AAC devices by Saltillo Corporation. It offers customizable symbol-based vocabularies, text-to-speech, and various access methods to facilitate communication.

- Pricing: The pricing for NovaChat devices varies depending on the specific model and features. It's recommended to contact Saltillo Corporation or their authorized distributors for pricing details.

- Compatibility: NovaChat devices are self-contained communication devices and do not run on specific operating systems.

4. TouchChat:

- Features: TouchChat, also by Saltillo Corporation, provides customizable symbol-based vocabularies, text-to-speech, word prediction, and different access methods for communication.

- Pricing: TouchChat software pricing varies based on the platform (iOS, Windows, Android). It's best to visit Saltillo Corporation's website or contact them directly for the most accurate pricing information.

- Compatibility: TouchChat software is available for iOS, Windows, and Android platforms.

5. Avaz:

-Pricing: Avaz offers a range of pricing options, including monthly and yearly subscriptions, with different feature sets available at different price points.

-Features: Avaz provides a user-friendly AAC app designed for individuals with communication challenges. It includes customizable vocabulary, text-to-speech, visual supports, and various language options.

-Compatibility: Avaz is compatible with iOS and Android devices, making it accessible on smartphones and tablets.

6. LAMP Words for Life:

-Pricing: LAMP Words for Life is available as a one-time purchase, with different pricing options depending on the device and platform.

-Features: LAMP Words for Life is a comprehensive AAC system that follows a motor planning approach. It features a rich vocabulary, consistent motor patterns, and robust language tools for expressive communication.

-Compatibility: LAMP Words for Life is compatible with dedicated AAC devices, such as those from PRC-Saltillo, as well as iOS and Windows devices.

7. AACorn:

-Pricing: AACorn is a free and open-source AAC app available for download on iOS devices, offering affordability and accessibility.

-Features: AACorn focuses on simplicity and ease of use, providing a basic set of communication tools and customizable options suitable for individuals with varying needs.

-Compatibility: AACorn is compatible with iOS devices, specifically designed for iPhones and iPads.

8. Snap Core First:

-Pricing: Snap Core First is available as a one-time purchase, with pricing varying depending on the device and platform.

-Features: Snap Core First offers a symbol-based AAC system, featuring a core vocabulary, topic-based pages, and intuitive navigation. It includes symbol support, word prediction, and customization options.

-Compatibility: Snap Core First is compatible with dedicated AAC devices, as well as Windows and iOS devices.

simulation of board maker screen on computer

9. Boardmaker:

-Pricing: Boardmaker offers various pricing options, including subscriptions and perpetual licenses, with different feature sets available at different price points.

-Features: Boardmaker is a versatile AAC software that allows users to create visual supports, communication boards, and interactive activities. It includes a vast library of symbols and templates for personalized communication materials.

-Compatibility: Boardmaker is compatible with Windows and iOS devices, offering flexibility in accessing and using the software.

10. Widget Software AACs:

-Pricing: Widget Software offers a range of AAC products with different pricing structures. Specific pricing details would depend on the product chosen.

-Features: Widget Software offers multiple AAC solutions, including Communicate: SymWriter, Communicate: InPrint, and more. These AAC systems feature symbol-based communication, customization options, and various tools for creating communication materials.

-Compatibility: Widget Software AACs are compatible with Windows and Mac platforms.

**Please note that providing detailed information on pricing and compatibility for each AAC solution you mentioned may be challenging due to the evolving nature of product offerings and regional variations. For the most up-to-date and accurate details, I recommend visiting the official websites of the respective AAC providers or reaching out to their sales teams or authorized distributors.**

C. What should you consider when selecting the most suitable AAC solution based on individual needs?

This section guides readers on how to select the most suitable AAC solution based on their individual needs. It covers various factors to consider, such as:

• Communication goals: Individuals should consider the specific communication goals they have, such as expressing basic needs, engaging in social interactions, or participating in academic settings.

• Communication abilities: Assessing an individual’s current communication abilities, including their receptive language skills, fine motor skills, and cognitive abilities, is important in determining the level of support required from an AAC device.

• User preferences: Taking into account user preferences is essential. Some individuals may prefer visual symbols, while others might gravitate towards text-based communication. Preferences regarding the device’s size, portability, and user interface should also be considered.

• Language and vocabulary needs: Different AAC solutions offer varying language and vocabulary options. Considering the individual’s language needs, such as multilingual support or specialized vocabulary for specific fields or contexts, can help in selecting the right AAC solution.

Support and training: Availability of training resources, technical support, and the ease of learning to use the AAC solution should be considered. This includes considering the support provided by manufacturers, professionals, or online communities.

By considering these factors, individuals and their support teams can make informed decisions when selecting the most suitable AAC solution that aligns with their unique needs, communication goals, preferences, and support requirements.

Please remember to look out for parts 2 and 3 where we discuss how to obtain these devices at little to no cost you would and what resources are available.

girl in speech therapy

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**Disclaimer: Mama, It Takes a Village has not been a client of any of the listed services or products mentioned in this blog post, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Mama, It Takes a Village does not endorse or guarantee the quality or effectiveness of any of the mentioned establishments or their services. The information provided is based on publicly available information and recommendations. Individuals are advised to conduct their own research and exercise their own judgment when selecting and utilizing the services mentioned. Mama, It Takes a Village is not responsible for any issues or experiences that may arise from engaging with the mentioned services or products. Thank you for understanding.**


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