Assistive Technology Network


So, you have gone through the consideration and assessment process and determined the most optimal communication device for a student…now what? Once the team receives the device, training the student and team is critical to successful implementation! It is very important that the adults who will be working with the student are familiar with the device features, the basic set up and programming, and how to maintain. Oftentimes, this training is provided by the manufacturer of the device through webinars, video tutorials on their website or YouTube channel and even in-person opportunities. It is important to include the family in these training opportunities as they will be facilitating generalization of the use of the device outside the school setting.

Once the team supporting the student is familiar with the device, it is time to introduce it to the student. Effectively teaching the use of AAC requires many opportunities for practice during highly motivating activities.

"The typically developing child will demonstrate language competency around 9-12 years of age having been immersed in and practicing oral language for approximately 36,500 waking hours."

Encourage the use of the device and make sure it is always available! It is common for a student to not use a device at first or push buttons at random. Rather than taking the device away, use that as a teaching opportunity to model a meaningful response. This is known as the exploration phase and is important to the development of language.

Get everyone on board and be consistent with your responses. Involving the student's team, family and even peers will reflect that communication takes place everywhere. Ensure that communication partners are giving prompt, appropriate and consistent feedback. This will aid in understanding and increase reliable responses from the AAC user.

"The typically developing child will have been exposed to oral language for approximately 4,380 waking hours by the time he begins speaking at about 18 months of age. If someone is using a different symbol set and only has exposure to it with the speech pathologist two times a week, 20-30 minutes each, it will take the alternate symbol user 84 years to have the same experience with his symbols that the typically developing child has with the spoken word in 18 months!"

These 10 AAC Tips for Teachers can help you prepare for AAC implementation.