AAC Awareness and Free Speech for All

AACAWARE2019

October is AAC Awareness Month, and a great time to acknowledge developments in the world of augmentative and alternative communication.  This year has brought head tracking to some apps on the iPad Pro, and the ability to make phone calls from Proloquo2Go! More and more, the line between consumer electronics and dedicated devices is blurring. This is a good thing. It brings down the cost of AAC and means that more people have access to the tech. 

Sales

Many of our favorite AAC apps go on sale this month, making communication even more accessible.  Lauren Enders, of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, has created the graphic below so that we all know when to buy.  Thanks Lauren!

List of AAC and related apps on sale during AAC Awareness Month.

Legislation

This year, we have seen AAC receive recognition on a national level.  In June, Senator Casey (Pa) introduced the Access to Free Speech for All Act (AFSFA). The intention of this legislation is to “provide for comprehensive training, technical assistance, and resource centers on augmentative and alternative communication devices, services, and supports….” A national center would be established, along with five regional centers, with an annual total budget of five million dollars.  

The text of this legislation emphasizes that no one is too severely disabled to benefit from access to communication, and that communication is a basic human right. It supports the use of AAC “to learn, work, and socialize.”  People need to be able to fully participate in all aspects of society. Much of the nation is focused on other news right now, but I don’t want the news of this bill to get lost in the rumpus!  

It is important to note that the National Advisory Committee that would be established to support this legislation is to be composed of 21 individuals, including at least 11 who have significant disabilities impacting communication and who use AAC. 

For the full text of the bill click on the following link:

AFSFA Bill

If this is an issue that you want to support, I recommend that you contact your senators in DC.  Remind them that communication for people with disabilities is really important. Be the squeaky wheel.  You can find your senator at the following link:

https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm

For a PDF of the AAC Awareness to AAceptance poster, click on the image below:

AAC Awareness Poster with link to PDF in new browser tab.

Kathryn Helland

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