Having AAC resources available does not guarantee successful AAC implementation. Here is an account from Sipho, an educator who has since become a valued member of our multidisciplinary team.
I used to teach at a school for learners with Severe Intellectual Disabilities. I taught a class of 18 learners, 9 of which had little or no functional speech. I found it difficult to make the learning material relevant to my non speaking learners. Assessments were particularly difficult. As most learners were unable to write, I relied on oral assessments. These were impossible for the learners who had little or no functional speech. I found myself unable to asses these learners and as such unable to report anything on their progress.
I was excited when a speech therapist at the school introduced Boardmaker, a software that enables the user to create communication boards, visual schedules, communication books and other AAC and educational resources. At last, a way for my learners to communicate and access the curriculum!
Unfortunately, the creation of these beautiful resources was not enough. I did not know how to introduce AAC or how to model the use of these resources for my learners. The speech therapist was in charge of developing the communication boards and did this without discussing the content with me first, there was no team collaboration. The communication boards were not accessible to all of the learners. Some learners would have benefited from larger symbols and some learners had physical disabilities that prevented them from pointing to the symbols directly but had no alternative method of accessing them.
The resources didn’t help at all and I abandoned them. I would have benefited from training in AAC strategies. It would have helped if I had been able to help the speech therapist to develop the necessary AAC resources based on the relevant learning material keeping my learner’s unique strengths in mind to determine suitable ways for them to access the AAC resources.
Our online training courses are designed to empower educators and therapists to not only create wonderful AAC resources, but to use them too. For more information, please click here.