are numerous commercially available augmentative/alternative communication devices.
These range from single message systems to complex computer-based devices capable
of generating an almost infinite amount of messages.
While these devices
can be very powerful tools, they should never be viewed as the end goal or sole
solution to communication challenges. Rather, they must be viewed as one part
of the communication continuum which ranges from partner assisted to independent.
Any piece of equipment is subject to breaking
down, running out of battery power or otherwise malfunctioning. Ideally, a plan
should be in place for how the student will communicate while their AAC system
is being recharged and/or repaired.
of choosing an appropriate device ideally involves a team approach including:
- A team assessment which includes the individual who will be using the device,
their family and/or support staff as well as professionals who are familiar with
the student and those experienced in the selection and implementation of AAC devices.
trial period in which a recommended system(s) is used and efficacy data are collected
Feature Match: No Tech to High Tech
differing opinions and definitions as to what constitutes a no tech, low tech,
mid tech or high tech communication system. For the purposes of this resource,
AAC devices will be defined as:
- No tech systems: Any communication
system that does not require a power source.
- Low tech systems: Any communication
system that requires a source of power and is very easy to program.
Mid tech systems: Any communication system that requires a power source and requires
some level of training to adequately program and maintain the device.
High tech systems: Any communication system that requires a power source and extensive
training to competently program and maintain the device.
of systems contained in each category include:
No Tech communication
Choice boards: Objects, pictures, and/or symbols can
be used on a choice board to offer students opportunities to communicate the language
of snack/leisure activities, learning activities, transitioning, literacy activities,
daily living activities, and more.
Choice boards can be used alone or
in combination. In this example, the student can select an answer from one choice
board to complete a sentence started on another choice board.
can be cut to various sizes from foam core board. This material is commonly used
to mat pictures or make posters. It can be found in the school supply section
of discount stores, at craft stores or at framing places.
boards: These can be computer generated and/or hand-made. They can range from
a single symbol to a single page to multiple pages either stored together or in
the actual environments where they will be used.
Picture or symbol overlays that provide opportunities for students to communicate
about specific activities in which they are engaged,
- A general or core
overlay to communicate general language across activities and environments,
A communication overlay to communicate about literacy activity, and more
exchange systems provide students opportunities to physically give communication
picture or symbol during activity or through self-initiation.
- Communication books, wallets
Mid Tech systems
High Tech systems
Companies Offering Augmentative/Alternative
Communication and/or Assistive Technology Products:
Assistive Technology, Inc.
DDA Home Page, home of Feature Match, Assessm...
Don Johnston Incorporated
The Great Talking Box
Romich Company Home Page
Sentient Systems Technology, Inc.
TASH International INC., Ontario
Other Vendor Resources