Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
At the most basic level, AAC is anything that supports communication when traditional methods aren’t sufficient, (Cress, 2011). AAC can involve “unaided” personal tools such as signed language or facial expressions, or “aided” external tools like a speech-generating device. It includes a range of technologies, such as “low-tech” pictures and books, to “high-tech” apps and software. We often talk about AAC as the “formal” system a communicator learns, such as picture symbols. However, AAC can – and usually should- be “multimodal,” which takes advantage of a variety of tools that are available to the individual.
Because AAC users’ needs are typically complex, it’s natural to ask whether they can be appropriately served through telepractice. As always, SLPs must assess individual client needs. However, a growing body of evidence helps us consider the possibilities.
Fissel and colleagues modified emergent literacy assessment procedures to be administered through telepractice to an AAC user. Their results indicated that this type of evaluation was viable through telepractice. Allen and Shane compared the assessment of two AAC users, one onsite and one remote. The study demonstrated that individual needs must be considered for telepractice to be successful. However, it also suggested that useful assessment data can be collected effectively and efficiently through telepractice. Creating an inventory of a child’s communication behaviors is an effective assessment strategy. This may require special training of on-site partners and equipment to help the SLP observe subtle behaviors.
- Allen, A. A. & Shane, H. C. (2014). The Evaluation of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: Adaptations to Accommodate a Telepractice Model of Clinical Care. Perspectives on Telepractice, 4(2), 42-51.
- Cason, J. & Cohn, E. R. (2014). Telepractice: An Overview and Best Practices. Perspectives on Augment Alternative Communication, 23(1), 4-17.
- Cress, C.J. (2011) Providing Culturally-Responsive Services to Individuals with Severe Disabilities. Presentation at the Bilingual Therapies Symposium, July 2011, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- Fissel, S. N., Mitchell, P. R., & Alvares, R. L. (2015). An Adapted Assessment Model for Emergent Literacy Conducted via Telepractice. Perspectives on Telepractice, 5(2), 48-56.
- Hall, N. (2013). An Investigation of the Efficacy of Direct and Indirect AAC Service Provision via Telepractice (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/open_access_dissertations/743/