Sunday, November 25, 2012

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the use of any method other than speech and writing to achieve functional communication. It can be used with residual speech and can be unaided or aided. Unaided communication may include gestures, signs, voice interpretation or just simply using the body. Aided devices can be either electronic or non-electronic and they are used to transmit or receive messages. Devices are further defined as low-tech and high-tech. Low tech devices are those that do not need batteries, electricity or electronics and include writing, pointing or using a communication book. High tech devices permit the storage and retrieval of electronic messages, with most allowing the user to communicate using speech output.

I would consider these systems as both instructional and adaptive technologies. I say this because:
  1. they are used with individuals as alternative forms of communication other than the use of one's voice (in other words, adapting to a person's communication abilities) and
  2. they can be used to teach students.
Incorporating Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems in the classroom requires a lot of planning. First, it is important for all classroom constituents (especially teachers and teacher aides) to be adept and comfortable with using the system with the student(s) so that the student gets the most use of of the educational exchange. Additionally, UDL approaches in these case can be beneficial for all students in the classroom. If other students in the classroom are made aware of the system and can hopefully use it effectively, this can improve and increase the amount of interaction with the student(s) who need the AAC.

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