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Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): Unlocking Communication Possibilities- Part 3

So that that you're up to speed on what exactly an AAC is and how you can obtain one at little or no cost to you, you are probably wondering what other resources are available that help support usage of the device. The last section of our 3 part series covers just that. So let's dive into what other resources are available to help you and your little one with the AAC.

child learning arc with speech teacher

Government Programs and Support:

A. What state or federal programs that offer AAC devices to eligible individuals?

State and federal programs exist to provide AAC devices to eligible individuals who require them for communication. These programs aim to ensure that individuals with communication disabilities have access to the necessary technology and support.

Here's an explanation of state and federal programs that offer AAC devices:

1. Medicaid: Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage to low-income individuals and families. Medicaid often covers AAC devices as durable medical equipment (DME) for eligible individuals. Coverage policies vary by state, but AAC devices may include speech-generating devices, communication software, mounting systems, and related accessories. Medicaid may require a prior authorization process and documentation from a healthcare professional to determine eligibility and coverage. Please Devi the Medicaid section above for more information.

2. Medicare: Medicare is a federal health insurance program primarily for individuals aged 65 and older, as well as certain younger individuals with disabilities. Medicare Part B may cover some AAC devices when considered medically necessary and prescribed by a healthcare professional. The devices covered under Medicare typically include speech-generating devices and necessary accessories.

3. State Assistive Technology Programs: Many states have assistive technology programs that offer support and resources for individuals with disabilities. These programs often provide assistance in accessing AAC devices. They may offer device loans, equipment trials, funding resources, or connections to other programs that can assist with device acquisition. State-specific eligibility criteria, application processes, and available services vary, so it's advisable to check with the specific state program for details. In NY the TRAID program can offer assistance. Use the link above to obtain more information. Several states have similar programs.

4. Early Intervention Programs: Early intervention programs, typically offered at the state or local level, provide support and services to children with developmental delays or disabilities from birth to age three. These programs may include AAC device provision as part of early intervention services if it is determined to be necessary for the child's communication development. Each state has its own early intervention program with specific guidelines and processes for accessing AAC devices. I will give an example of how it works in my home state of New York below. I will also add in a bit of information regarding school aged children as well.

BONUS: Now let's explore how the New York Early Intervention Program (NY EIP) and Committees on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) or Committees on Special Education (CSE) can cover the costs of obtaining an AAC device for those who qualify:

1. New York Early Intervention Program (NY EIP): NY EIP provides services to eligible children aged 0-3 years with developmental delays or disabilities. Under NY EIP, if an AAC device is determined to be necessary for a child's communication needs, it may be provided at no cost to the family through the program. Eligibility and the specific process vary, but families can contact their local Early Intervention Official to initiate the evaluation and service planning process.

2. Committees on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) and Committees on Special Education (CSE): CPSE and CSE are responsible for evaluating and providing services to children with disabilities in New York State, aged 3-5 years and 5-21 years, respectively. If a child's individualized education program (IEP) identifies the need for an AAC device as a related service, it may be covered as part of the child's special education services. The AAC device would be provided at no cost to the family through the educational system.

**It’s important to note that eligibility, evaluation processes, and coverage specifics can vary based on individual circumstances, local regulations, and available funding. It's recommended to reach out to the appropriate agencies, such as NY EIP, CPSE, or CSE, for detailed information and guidance specific to your situation. Additionally, local disability advocacy organizations and parent support groups can provide valuable assistance in navigating the funding options and processes in New York.**

5. State Developmental Disability Agencies: State developmental disability agencies may have programs or funding options available for individuals with developmental disabilities, including those who require AAC devices. These agencies provide support services, including AAC device provision, based on eligibility criteria established by the state. In NY OPWDD can assist with obtaining these devices. Please see their website for more information:

**To access AAC devices through state or federal programs, it's important to research the specific programs available in your state and review their eligibility criteria, application processes, and documentation requirements. Consulting with a speech-language pathologist, assistive technology specialist, or contacting local disability service agencies can provide further guidance and assistance in navigating these programs.**

B. What resources are available for understanding eligibility criteria and application processes?

When seeking to understand eligibility criteria and application processes for programs offering AAC devices, there are several resources you can consult. These resources can provide valuable information and guidance to ensure you meet the requirements and properly navigate the application process.

Here are some helpful resources:

1. Program Websites: Visit the websites of the specific programs you are interested in. State agencies, Medicaid, Medicare, and assistive technology programs often have dedicated webpages providing information about eligibility criteria, application processes, required documentation, and contact details. These websites may also have downloadable forms or application materials for reference.

2. Program Guidelines and Handbooks: Some programs provide comprehensive guidelines or handbooks that outline their eligibility criteria, documentation requirements, and step-by-step instructions for applying. These resources can be found on program websites or obtained by contacting the program directly. Reviewing these materials can provide clarity on the application process.

3. Program Contacts: Reach out to the program's designated contact person or customer service representative. They can answer specific questions about eligibility criteria and application processes. Program contacts may be available via phone, email, or in-person consultations. They can offer guidance, clarify any concerns, and provide insights into program requirements.

4. Local Disability Service Agencies: Local disability service agencies, such as centers for independent living, advocacy organizations, or nonprofit agencies focused on disabilities, often have knowledgeable staff who can provide information about various programs and their eligibility criteria. They can offer guidance on the application process, help identify suitable programs, and assist in filling out application forms.

5. Speech-Language Pathologists and Assistive Technology Specialists: Consult with speech-language pathologists (SLPs) or assistive technology specialists who have experience in AAC and disability services. SLPs are trained professionals who can provide insights into eligibility criteria and recommend appropriate programs. They can also assist with documentation and support the application process.

6. Support Groups and Online Communities: Joining support groups or online communities related to AAC devices and disabilities can provide valuable insights and firsthand experiences from individuals who have gone through the application process. These communities can offer advice, share resources, and provide guidance based on their own experiences with different programs.

**Remember that eligibility criteria and application processes can vary among programs and jurisdictions. It's essential to refer to the specific resources and guidelines provided by the programs themselves or consult with professionals knowledgeable in the field. They can help ensure accurate and up-to-date information, assist with completing application forms, and guide you through the process of accessing AAC devices.**

Community Resources:

A . Are there any local disability organizations, advocacy groups, or parent networks that provide information and support in accessing AAC devices?

Local disability organizations, advocacy groups, and parent networks play a crucial role in providing information, support, and resources for individuals seeking to access AAC devices. These community resources are dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities and their families, and they can offer valuable assistance throughout the process.

Here's an explanation of how these organizations can help:

1. Local Disability Organizations: Local disability organizations are nonprofit entities that focus on supporting individuals with disabilities in the community. These organizations often have staff or volunteers who are knowledgeable about AAC devices and can provide information on available resources, funding options, and programs in the local area. They may offer guidance on eligibility criteria, application processes, and connecting with relevant service providers.

2. Advocacy Groups: Advocacy groups are organizations that work to promote the rights and interests of individuals with disabilities. They often have resources and expertise in accessing AAC devices. These groups can provide information about legal rights, disability-related policies, and available support programs. They may assist individuals and families in navigating the system, advocating for their needs, and connecting with relevant services.

3. Parent Networks: Parent networks or support groups bring together families of individuals with disabilities, including those who use AAC devices. These networks provide a supportive community where parents can share experiences, exchange information, and offer guidance to each other. Parents who have already gone through the process of accessing AAC devices can provide firsthand insights, recommendations, and practical tips for navigating the system.

4. Information and Referral Services: Many disability organizations and advocacy groups offer information and referral services. They can help individuals and families identify appropriate resources, connect with relevant agencies or programs, and obtain accurate information about AAC devices. These services often have staff who can answer questions, provide guidance, and direct individuals to the most relevant resources for their specific needs.

5. Workshops and Training: Community organizations and advocacy groups may organize workshops, training sessions, or informational events related to AAC devices and assistive technology. These events provide opportunities to learn about the latest devices, communication strategies, funding options, and resources available in the local area. Attending these workshops can expand knowledge, connect with experts, and network with other families facing similar challenges.

When seeking information and support from local disability organizations, advocacy groups, or parent networks, it's recommended to reach out to them directly. They can provide information about their services, programs, and upcoming events. Many organizations have websites, helplines, or local offices where individuals can inquire, access resources, or attend support group meetings. Connecting with these community resources can be invaluable in obtaining guidance, support, and navigating the journey of accessing AAC devices.

B. What supportive online communities and forums are available where individuals can connect, share experiences, and exchange resources?

Supportive online communities and forums provide a platform for individuals to connect, share experiences, and exchange resources related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). These communities can be valuable sources of support and information for individuals who use AAC devices, their families, caregivers, and professionals.

Here's an explanation of these online communities:

1. Online Forums and Discussion Boards: Online forums and discussion boards dedicated to AAC provide spaces where individuals can engage in conversations, ask questions, and share their experiences. These platforms often have specific sections or threads dedicated to different AAC devices, communication strategies, software, and related topics. Users can post queries, seek advice, and receive responses from the community members.

2. Social Media Groups: Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit host groups or communities focused on AAC. These groups allow users to join, participate in discussions, and share resources related to AAC devices, apps, communication techniques, and more. Users can seek advice, share success stories, and connect with individuals who have similar experiences or challenges.

3. Online Support Networks: Online support networks specifically designed for individuals who use AAC devices provide a safe and inclusive space for sharing experiences and seeking support. These networks may have interactive features, such as chat rooms or private messaging, to facilitate one-on-one or group interactions. Users can connect with peers, learn from others' experiences, and exchange practical tips or emotional support.

4. Social Sharing Platforms: Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok have content creators who share their AAC journeys, device demonstrations, communication strategies, and success stories. Users can follow these creators, engage with their content, and learn from their experiences. The comment sections of these platforms often become a space for discussions and resource sharing.

5. Online Communities for Caregivers and Professionals: Online communities also exist specifically for caregivers, families, and professionals working with individuals who use AAC devices. These communities provide opportunities to connect with others facing similar challenges, discuss best practices, share resources, and learn from each other's expertise. These communities may focus on specific topics like AAC intervention strategies, AAC in educational settings, or supporting AAC users in daily life.

Here are some examples of social media channels, forums, and accounts related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) that you can follow for support, resources, and insights:

Social Media Channels:

1. Twitter:

- @AAC_Chat: Provides information, resources, and news related to AAC.

- @AAC_Network: Shares AAC success stories and resources.

- @AACInstitute: Offers updates on AAC research, training, and events.

2. YouTube:

- "Speaking of AAC" by Rachel Madel: A speech-language pathologist sharing AAC tips and strategies.

- "AAC Tech Connect" by TechOWL PA: Covers AAC technology reviews and tutorials.

- "Signing Time" by Rachel Coleman: Offers sign language resources that can be used in combination with AAC.

Forums and Discussion Boards:

1. Reddit:

- r/aac: A subreddit dedicated to discussions on AAC devices, apps, and communication strategies.

- r/slp: A subreddit for speech-language pathologists, where AAC topics are often discussed.

2. AAC Forum:

- AAC Institute Forum: A platform for individuals and professionals to discuss AAC-related topics, share experiences, and seek advice.

Notable Accounts:

1. Instagram:

- @aacforall: Focuses on AAC advocacy and resources.

- @aacchicks: Empowers and supports individuals who use AAC.

2. TikTok:

- @aacqueen: Offers AAC-related content and demonstrations.

- @talkswithisaac: A TikTok account featuring a young AAC user sharing his experiences and communication journey. ( links werent available at time of print)

In addition, these particular accounts are my favorite. They break everything down in a very relatable and caring way:


- @meaningfulspeech: Focuses on AAC implementation, language development, and creating meaningful communication opportunities.

- @Bohospeechie: Offers resources, tips, and ideas related to AAC and speech therapy.

- @aac_innovations: Shares innovative approaches and ideas for AAC implementation and communication support.


- Natural Language Acquisition Study Group: A Facebook group dedicated to discussing natural language acquisition and AAC, sharing research articles, and exchanging insights on language development for AAC users.

These accounts and groups can provide valuable information, inspiration, and support for individuals interested in AAC and those seeking resources for implementing AAC in various settings.

It’s important to note that social media platforms and online communities are constantly evolving, so it's recommended to search for keywords related to AAC on these platforms to discover more accounts, communities, and forums that align with your specific interests and needs. Additionally, you can explore hashtags such as #AAC, #AACcommunity, or #AACresources to find relevant content and accounts.

***When participating in online communities and forums, it's important to be mindful of respectful and supportive interactions. Always prioritize the privacy and consent of individuals sharing their stories or experiences. Remember that these communities are meant to provide support, share knowledge, and foster a sense of belonging for individuals connected to AAC.***

Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices have the potential to transform lives by enabling individuals to express themselves effectively. By exploring various options, leveraging insurance coverage, and tapping into community resources, individuals can access AAC devices at little to no cost. Remember, communication is a fundamental right, and AAC devices open up a world of possibilities for those who rely on them.

***Disclaimer: The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. While I strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, I make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information contained herein. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. It is important to note that laws, regulations, and circumstances may have changed since that time. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you independently verify and validate any information I provide before making decisions or taking actions based upon it. I am not responsible for any errors or omissions, nor for any loss, injury, or damage arising from the use of the information provided. It is always recommended to consult with relevant professionals or experts in specific fields for tailored advice and guidance. Please be aware that interactions and communications on this platform do not establish a professional-client relationship. The responsibility for evaluating and validating the information provided rests solely with the individual readers. By using this platform, you agree to hold me harmless from any liability or claim in connection with the use of the information provided. Always seek professional advice and consult with appropriate authorities or experts regarding specific legal, financial, medical, or any other professional matters. Thank you for understanding.***

**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.**

1 Comment

Unknown member
Oct 09, 2023

Good Resource ! Thanks

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