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Choosing AAC Device: Things to consider

Choosing AAC Device: Things to consider

Choosing AAC Device:

ACC devices are helpful for users to create their personality. It transforms non-verbal speech pattern into extended vocabulary based speech pattern. It is the best method to support spontaneous and meaningful communication that generalizes to all environments. Everyone has the right to access any speech system that will meet their needs. No one can choose one AAC device that fits all. AAC devices are available to all people, no matter their age, language stage, or intellectual level to begin. Hence when choosing the right AAC device we need to consider certain aspects.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) uses all forms of communication (other than oral speech), that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. The ‘augmentative form’ helps the existing speech model and ‘alternative form’ is a replacement of existing speech model.

Speech and Language in AAC device:

‘Language’ is a system of conveying thoughts with shared rules and ‘Speech’ is the communication by verbal production. So choosing AAC Device follows certain vocabulary to use with the pretermined situations. AAC devices helps people of all age group like young children from 18 months. Both children and people of all ages can benefit from AAC and it’s never too late to start with AAC. Adults with apraxia, aphasia and neurodegenerative cases (even at 30 or 40 years of age) can gain from it.

Where to begin determining the right AAC device?:

 It begins with the persons current abilities (attention, cognition, motor, vision, hearing). Although, the exact relationship between cognition and language development is  not known. It depends on the current receptive and expressive language level. We need to focus on the goals that we need to acheive using AAC. The activities also should be thought when choosing an AAC. AAC device should develop spontaneous and meaningful conversation. It should also suit the user to all kind of environments.

Things to consider to choose an AAC Device:

 Choosing AAC device with a persons skills and goals will lead us to choose the features required in a device. The features           include:

  • Accessibility Options:  When repeatedly pressing key or changing the contrast colours, keyguards could be used. We might  have to carry the device in a bag etc. So the size and weight of the device plays a role in portability of the device.
  • Access Methods: The movements of the user to operate the AAC. Eg: swiping a touchscreen are important. Guided reading and writing can begin and go hand in hand with speech development. Available accessing methods are  eye/head track, on-off  switches, and partner-assisted scanning etc.
  • Display type : The size, spacing, and the number of icons per page should be adjusted depending on the children with physical disabilities. We will have to make sure the user has better quality of speech and language.
  • Positioning of the device: Eg: You will have to position lower or place it at an angle. Place it on a desk table to give the right place. The volume of the device need to be loud and clear hence the position of the device plays a role.
  • Training to use AAC:  The user and the supported team members requires practice to use the device. It is more than learning just the features of a device. The training focuses on increasing vocabulary and speech skills.
  • Use of pointing devices: The user will have to use pointing devices like stylus when they cannot point exactly. The  user can benefit from using materials. We can increase the target size or to increase the space between cells. 
  • Support groups:  Support strategy classes that help to demonstrate and train the user like communication applications for iPad/iPod and vocabulary selction. Try using it among the AAC device user groups helps the person to become confident in speech.

Lets also understand the different types of AAC that supports the user namely,

Low Technology AAC Device:

Low-tech system are methods of speech that are not battery powered and usually cheaper to make. The common Example of low-tech systems include picture exchanging, printed word boards, speech books and sign language. Recorded speech devices (digital) which are battery powered and which have simple short messages, are also considered as low-tech AAC as well.

PECS:

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a systematic way to teach a child how to talk with someone. Now we will have to teach kids to converse by giving them a picture. This program was created for children with autism but we can use it for other non-verbal children as well. The child will not have a true speech, but an other way. PECS will allow him to “speak” his thoughts even if he is not able to. There are different phases of PECS to help us to use it for speech.

 By using PECS, we can take a child with no interest in other people to point and converse. For children with autism or other speech delays are uninterested in speech. This is a big step for the child. Often, once we see the power of this speech, we will also try other forms of speech.

AVAZ

Avaz is an award-winning Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app for children with speech difficulties (having Autism, intellectual challenges, etc.). It plays on iPad and certain android devices and has a powerful picture cast keyboard with high-quality voice synthesis. This helps users speech and also develop language skills. It will give us ideas of conversations that can support the child develop speech skills beyond just requesting.

And best of all, it will teach us where to find the words that we will have to use on the app.

Proloquo2Go

Proloquo2Go is also an award-winning speech app that provides a voice to over 125,000 persons who cannot speak. It is one of the few AAC apps that covers all users from beginning to advanced speech needs. The app supports gradual learning needs , by catering to a wide range of fine-motor, visual and cognitive skills. However, the core words appear in the same location across folders. Users can easily change their speech skills expand while customising. 

High-Tech AAC Device:

High tech AAC works on direct power as well as on re-chargeable battery packs.  They work on sophisticated software vocabularies, various voices and provide full accessibility and customization.  

Low-Tech to High-Tech Devices:

AAC does not impact speech and language development negatively. The primary cause of the apps are to ease and kick-start the language development. The user improves in receptive language, expressive language. Speech production can also be blended into your existing way of speech therapy. Multispeech can still be practiced by using both systems.It will be better to use low tech AAC intially and tranform to a high tech AAC device.   

Advantages of Low and High tech Devices:

Low-tech systems
  • Low-tech systems need not be trialed and used before trying out high-tech devices.
  • It tends you to require more reliance and interaction with proper trained and known speech partners.
  • There are no hierarchy to use low tech systems.
  • It is always wise to maintain a low-tech alternative speech system than a high-tech one more often used.
  • Although contemporary electronic devices are now far more durable, failure or sudden physical damage can deny the user speech abruptly. A well-practiced, low-tech AAC device can provide immediate relief .
  • When an person starts with low-tech systems the common trials that arise include unstable speech partners.

High-tech systems

  • High-tech systems aim to build independence and self-reliance through establishing more modes of interchange.
  • It increases the consistent usage of the location of words and gives access to thousands of words.
  • Any person, no matter what their age can use high-tech devices to begin using it.
  •  The users become empowered to begin their AAC speech as they couple with the different ways of speech.
  • Dynamic display devices will create speech opportunities to people with very limited speech development.

All these facts would help us to decide on the type of AAC device that would well suitable your family member for speech. Hence the learning of the device and the user’s ability helps us in choosing the best fit of AAC. For further help in speech problems, kindly contact 1specialplace.com.

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