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Technology for Special Populations
Communication Needs
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Where to Begin

Considering AAC

Visual Environments

Vocab Presentation

Representing Vocabulary

Visual Environments

Finding Pictures

Ideas for Students

Social Skills


Using Devices & Systems


Authors: Julie Maro and Lori Tufte

An introduction to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for students 5-10 years old is addressed in this module.

Designing quality programs for students who have AAC needs involves engineering communication environments, organizing and training team members, and developing appropriate lessons and materials. Strategies for achieving these goals will be presented.



  • Using speech and language principles to develop appropriate goals and objectives for AAC students helps practitioners incorporate speech, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics objectives into their lessons.

  • Communication is a process.

  • A team approach is critical when assessing and teaching students how to use AAC systems.

  • In representing vocabulary for students who do not read, one must look at pictures through the eyes of a non-reader.

  • Picture symbols can be used to create visual systems and aids.

  • Learning to functionally use an augmentative communication system requires a significant investment of time.

  • All students can and do communicate.

  • Voice output systems should be an integral part of any student's AAC program.

  • AAC systems should have a core vocabulary.

  • Data keeping is a must!

  • Literacy and language activities provide a logical framework for vocabulary selection and intervention.

  • A myriad of resources are available on the world wide web - Let's not re-invent the wheel.

  • Pool and share resources with parents and colleagues whenever possible.



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