October is upon us and it is time to celebrate AAC Awareness Month. It is a great time to recognize, and honor, all the ways in which we, as humans, communicate. I have just returned from the Closing The Gap conference in Minnesota. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with AAC users from all over the country.
I had the great honor to be able to present with Dr. Caroline Musselwhite, Jane Odom from PRC, and the team from Gompers in Phoenix. We talked about ACES East Meets West, and how the ACES model creates intentional communities of young adult AAC users. Addressing the needs of adults with AAC (or who could benefit from AAC) has the potential to really change lives for the better. AAC can support so much more than just face to face communication. Adults with complex communication deficits need to be able to work, self advocate, direct their own care, and build meaningful relationships in all spheres of life.
ACES started at Temple University, and was replicated at Gompers. We will now be working as a team, East and West, to establish a curriculum that can be replicated by other programs. Adults matter!!
There were many fantastic AAC-related presentations at Closing the Gap. I was able to attend the AAC Town Hall. The participants used a range of different speech generating devices. These included the PRC Accent with Unity, iPads with TouchChat and LAMP Words For Life, and Chat software on the Nova Chat. These men and women had the floor to talk about how they communicate across different settings, what they value about AAC, and how they plan for the future.
One of the participants has almost finished her undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She plans to become a speech therapist, specializing in AAC. Speech pathology needs more people who #speakAAC in the field. Lydia emphasized the need to use and respect all communication modalities. I anticipate great things from her!
Before the town hall, I attended a session by Krista Howard, an AAC user who works at Gompers as an Assistive Technology assistant. She talked about her work in promoting modeling and teaching social skills with the people she serves. I cannot overstate the importance of hearing the authentic voices of people who use AAC telling their own stories.
The whole conference was a wonderful immersion in the world of AAC. It was a great way to start off AAC Awareness Month!
One event that happens during AAC Awareness Month is that many vendors give 50% discounts off AAC apps for the iPad. If you already know what you need, it can be a great time to buy. Here is a list of some of the vendors offering 50% off:
- Speak For Yourself, October 3-8
- CoughDrop, October 1-6
- Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4Text, October 8-11
- TouchChat, October 3-6
Remember, try before you buy. Your SLP plays an important role in helping to determine which speech generating device, or app, is right for you! You can always borrow from the AT Lending Library.
And please check out https://techowlpa.org/ for more information on all the ways we use Technology for Our Whole Lives. The site launches on today, October 1st!
If you team needs some visuals to support those learning to model and use AAC, feel free to check out the posters on AAC Community. Also look online, because there are a lot of great posters out there, including those by Lauren Enders and Rachel Langley (to name a few).