AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices for adults can be required for a temporary disability or a permanent one. In the medical model and in the eyes of funding agencies, these devices are most commonly referred to as Speech Generating Devices (SGD’s). Use use of an AAC system can give the user the freedom to express him/herself. Caregivers, friends and family also benefit from being able to interact with the user. Of key significance is the ability to use a device to direct one’s care and to communicate with medical personnel.
Whether you’re a family member, a caregiver or a Speech-Language Pathologist, if you’re working to help adults with a significant speech impairment, you will need information about AAC devices. And these days, there are many to choose from.
Types Of AAC Devices
The first step is to understand the different types of AAC devices that are available. In the last 10 years, the onset of devices such as the iPad and smart phones, have greatly improved the affordability and availability of AAC.
Generally, there are 3 categories of AAC devices:
1) those with digitized speech output
2) text-to-speech synthesized speech output systems requiring the user to manually spell out messages
3) synthesized speech output devices that are accessed through a variety of methods including as eye movements enabling the user communicate using a combination of words, phrases, and spelling.
The type of communication device that you choose depends on the needs of the user and may be influenced by available funding options to purchase the product. There are a variety of sources that you can look into to assist with funding issues. Tobii DynaVox, a leader in AAC technology has a dedicated Funding Department can help you.
Learn more about Tobii DynaVox Funding.
What Should You Look For In AAC Devices For Adults?
Here are 4 tips on what you should consider when deciding how to choose an AAC device for an adult user.
1) The first step is to understand the user’s communication needs, abilities and preferences for acquiring a system that offers simply spelling with word prediction or access to a complex and efficient cored word vocabulary complimented with speeling. There are low-tech options such as static communication boards and high tech options such as dedicated devices, or Apps for iPads, tablets and smart phones.
Knowing which method of communication works best for the user will make the usage of the device easier and less frustrating.
2) Second, the physical situation of the user must be considered. There are highly portable units that are suitable for ambulant users and devices that are better suited for wheelchair users. There are systems offering multiple modes of access that are key for persons with degenerative conditions.
3) Third, ease of learning is an extremely important factor. The cognitive and visual perceptual skills of the user will play a large part in choosing which AAC device works best.
4) Lastly, the reliability of the product is a factor that should not be overlooked. These days, most of the AAC devices are electronic so it’s not a matter of IF the hardware or software breaks down but how often and when? Be prepared for this, choose products that have a good reliability history. And of course, it’s good practice to have a low-tech or other type of back up system.
5) Since the onset of mobile devices, the list of apps for communication has increased tremendously. There are over 200 AAC apps for mobile devices these days and we can recommend some that we have found to be the most reliable and useful.
The Gateway app, which is a core word app that uses both letters and symbols for communication. It’s an “add on” product that works to enhance the capabilities of the AAC devices it works with.
Gateway works with…
For more information about AAC Devices, check out The Voice Of AAC