AAC users have different levels of disadvantages when it comes to speaking on a daily basis. How could we take our best effort and encourage them to conversate?
We communicate with people all the time. Thoughts are shared, ideas are bounced back and forth, and we have the ability to express emotions. Not everybody has the advantage of speaking when they really want to. While we try to communicate with someone with a disability, it’s important to be patient, respectful, and understanding.
We’re getting better at communicating with people who are nonverbal thanks to new knowledge and new technology. Additionally, technology is helping nonverbal people say what they are actually feeling. Part of this technology comes in the form of AAC devices.
What is an AAC Device?
People of all ages have difficulty talking to the point where communication is just hardly successful. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) combines elements of communication that expand past just speech. While each device is unique, they may incorporate the use of:
- Hand gestures
- Gazing with eyes
- Any kind of body language
- Text to speech
- Switch selection
When we look at the phrase “augmentative and alternative communication” what is that telling us? The augmentative means to reinforce the person’s communication with something additional like a piece of technology such as eye gaze, pointing device, or a tablet.
Alternative means to substitute a different way of communicating such as using picture symbols or a pointing board as opposed to written words. When we combine these two words there are a plethora of ways to help people communicate.
Finding the Right Device
ACC devices are not a “one size fits all” kind of product. People have different skill levels with communication. Not to mention, preferences are also different for everybody. Some people are more proficient with technology, so they could be better with tablet devices and apps. Others have less functionality in their motor skills, so low-tech devices are more comfortable. Not to mention, others may be blind or visually impaired and that adds a whole different level of need.
Nevertheless, if you’re picking out a product, definitely ask if a free trial is available. This way, the person could familiarize themselves with the AAC device. If it’s not a great fit, parting ways with the device is easier than encouraging usage with it.
Symbol-Rich Environment (for Emerging AAC Users)
One of the best ways you can encourage emerging AAC users is by practicing in the right place. A non-verbal person may get frustrated if they can’t say what's on their mind. It’s even more difficult in a plain or empty room where they can’t communicate anything.
Symbol-rich environments give an emerging AAC user lots of opportunities to communicate. Maybe they could move their hand, or maybe they could glare at their favorite object. Stimulate their minds more by working in a place surrounded by their favorite things such as:
- Meals or dishes
- TV shows
- Family photos
Incorporate Other People
Wouldn't it be so much easier if everybody understood non-verbal communication? Have other family members, friends, peers, and even school teachers get involved. The more we surround AAC users with support, the more encouragement there will be. Explain to them your best methods of communication and show them the basics of the AAC device.
We can make it easier on non-verbal people by prompting them along with being responsive with their requests. It’s very important to give the communication time as it’s often much slower of a process than when two people speak verbally. Ultimately, the success of the AAC user is largely a matter of the technical approach. However, supporting the entire process by the people who interact with the AAC users is just as important.
Improving Communication with Compassion
LoganTech was started by Glen Dobbs after his son was diagnosed with severe autism and is completely non verbal. For over a decade, Logantech has innovated to the point where there is a full catalog of accessories available to help disabled people. We hope you feel a connection to our products, as we continue to make communication easier and more accessible.
Thank you for checking out our article on Encouraging AAC Users to Communicate More. If you’re looking for virtual demonstrations on AAC products and accessories, you can schedule a free 30-minute session. Free certificate of attendance available.