Communication Environments: Part 1

STEP 1: AAC SUPPORT GROUP

The first thing I wanted to do was get my stakeholders on board. Since I am trying to disseminate information across the district, I established a group for speech language pathologists (SLPs) in my district who work with students who use AAC (or would benefit from AAC use). This could easily be applied to professionals who work in a school setting. Basically – just get together the people who you will need to enlist to help carry out the process.

We meet once per month as part of already scheduled SLP meetings. I know not everybody has regular scheduled SLP meetings, so I would suggest looking into alternative times where people are already gathering – faculty meetings perhaps? I know this is an added thing, but I’ve found it so helpful and our group has grown in the last three meetings!

Our first meeting focused on brainstorming topics that we wanted to discuss. This was helpful for me to see what the concerns were across the district. Funding, consistency, and equity were some of the issues that came up. These issues are going to take time, and I don’t have the answers off the top of my head. Luckily, I work with a great group of SLPs who can help me figure it out.

Since our first meeting, we have met three times. I’m following a plan set by Lauren Enders on my favorite AAC website – PraAACtical AAC. Our first topic included a crash course in vocabulary organization.

I mostly pulled from information from the UNC Center for Literacy and Disability Studies but also included information on PODD. I realize that these are not the only two, but I wanted to hit on the two that we see the most right now. Remember: this is just our starting point…

The topic we discussed at this training was my idea for getting some resources in the classroom. Luckily the grant was funded!!!! Stay tuned for more information on that!

What vocabulary organization resources have you found?

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Personalizing the AAC Device

Here is a form I came up with to help personalize AAC communication systems in my district. I really wanted a way to get parent input as to the best ways to customize devices to fit their needs. My hope is that this will help families “buy in” to the idea that AAC is meant to be with the child at all times and serve as that person’s voice.

I based this form off of the PODD system, but these questions could easily apply to any device. I refer to the AAC user as “student” because I’m in a school. The more collaboration you have (including the AAC user to whatever extent possible) in choosing vocabulary, the better.

There are a couple of questions that I wouldn’t typically include – for example asking whether or not a parent would want undergarments or religion included on their device – but because I work in a school, I want to make sure that I’m not making parents uncomfortable or crossing any legal boundaries. That being said, my true belief is that we should never omit words because they are uncomfortable (we can’t unteach that swear word to a toddler). Best practice says to keep them in.

Here it is – let me know what you think. Are there other tools out there to help customize vocabulary selection? AACPersonalizationForm