AT Tip of the Week: Using QR Codes to Support People with AAC

Image of corgi typing on an old computer to make QR Codes

Did you think QR codes had gone the way of the dinosaurs?  Not at all useful? Who needs them? Well, changes in iOS 11 have helped make them relevant again.  When you point your iPhone camera at a QR code, it now offers you a drop down notification to open up the media linked to the code.  You no longer need a separate app to read QR codes, eliminating several steps and making them easier to access. So, how can we use this to support people who rely on AAC?

Image of a QR code and a magnifying glass

There is a website called  It allows you to create QR codes and pair them with a variety of different media, including plain text, websites, social media, YouTube videos, Dropbox  files….the list is quite long!   (Click on the above image to visit the site)

Image of Dropbox icon
Dropbox Icon

Combine these two things, and you have a useful tool.  Imagine attaching a QR code to an AAC device, linking caregivers to a backup file of the person’s vocabulary set in Dropbox?  Or, the QR code could link caregivers to a series of videos and documents about the individual’s preferences and communication style.  This could also be used to provide caregivers information on modeling AAC and the importance of keeping the device out and available.

What if you don’t have an iPhone?  To my knowledge, you will need to download a QR Reader app to an Android device, but you could then use QR codes in the above manner.

Taking this a step further. Many adult AAC users develop videos to guide their staff and direct their own care.  Often, these videos are loaded onto the speech generating device itself, but they could also be loaded as private videos onto YouTube.  Attach QR codes, and caregivers could be given access to these videos when they are not with the AAC user. This also has the effect of ‘backing up’ these videos to the cloud, should the device break. Caveat: this does NOT remove the importance of the AAC user actively showing someone a video to direct their own care, but could be useful.  I can imagine this as a tool to train new staff as well.

Image of video folder icon

Everything ‘old’ is new again.  QR codes were actually invented back in 1994. I am sure there are a thousand other ways to use QR codes to support AAC users and other learners with disabilities.  And let’s not forget low tech. It never hurts to hang a few motivational posters to keep people modeling AAC!

Model AAC Poster

Drop us a comment and let us know how you use QR codes!

Kathryn Helland

Kathryn is a certified speech-language pathologist and works with children and adults with complex communication needs. She has been with the TechOWL team since 2015 and is currently working on her doctorate. She would like to examine how to best support AAC users in higher education.

0 comments on “AT Tip of the Week: Using QR Codes to Support People with AAC

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.