AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication,for those with impairments or restrictions on the production or comprehension of spoken or written language. AAC is probably right for your child when he or she presents with a severe expressive communication impairment that interferes with or prevents with development and use of oral language.
For many years, there was one tool to help students, the DynaVox. Its problem was the cost, about $8000. Fortunately, now you can buy the iPad for about $500.00 and an AAC app for anywhere from free-$14.99 (demo versions) or $99.99-$199.00 (full programs). If you are working with a school that has volume purchasing, the Program Facilitator can use a special iTunes account to purchase apps in variable quantities, reducing the costs.
In my classes, I've recently been using TalkRocket Go ($99.99), a successor of My Voice. My students are thrilled by the features and the use of photographs rather than premade “board maker” pictures. The app does take some work by the therapist and teacher to customize the program to meet the needs of the users. Following are some of my favorite features:
- Places - Add in your favorite places, and voila - a GPS map appears. Best of all, it syncs on all of your devices.
- Built in library - Customize it, add your own photos, and use Google images. The goal is to have your most common words, sentences, and things you like or dislike with you at all times.
- Scanning capability - Built in is a physically accessible AAC app, pioneering screen scanning, external switches and even a wheelchair joystick control with wireless Bluetooth connection. The beauty of this app is it meets the needs of physical challenges experienced by user age 2-97 years.
- Customer service
- Video tutorial
- Language capabilities
The gift of voice - what a great holiday idea.
Vicki Windman is a special education teacher at Clarkstown High School South.