AAC for Speech-Language Pathologists

AAC Tech Goes Wrong

What do you do when things break?

Tech happens

Devices get spilled on, software gets deleted. Basically, things break. We can take precautions that allow us to ensure continued communication and get our tech repaired or restored. This applies to both light tech and high tech AAC systems.

Light Tech

One of the easiest ways to ensure that light tech systems are consistently available is to laminate your pages. You can glue the pages to card stock and then laminate  when the glue is fry. I purchased a Scotch laminator on Amazon when it went on sale. The laminating pouches are readily available. Some can laminate from home, but this is not the case for everyone. If you don’t have access to a laminator, there is still a lot you can do. Other materials can be used:

  • Clear contact paper
  • Clear packing tape
  • Sheet protectors

Consider creating two copies of the light tech book. If your student is currently studying in-person, one can stay at school while the other remains at home. That way, the student has access to communication without the risk of losing their system during transportation.

Mid Tech and High Tech devices

Create a light tech backup (or two). Match the pages to those of the high tech device. You can screenshot an iPad-based AAC app to maintain the layout of the backup system. This will be very important if/when the high tech device breaks and needs to be sent out for repairs. 

If you need to take actual photos of a mid-tech device, such as a Go Talk 9, make sure that you are photographing the device on a neutral background in good light. Don’t let the background be too busy, or allow reflected light to interfere with seeing the pictures or icons.  This is good advice anytime you are using photos on AAC.  

For information on creating light tech backups for high tech apps: http://aaccommunity.net/2019/09/backing-up-aac-apps-on-the-ipad/

High Tech AAC

It is possible to backup and save copies of your vocabulary files for all high tech AAC systems. Tech happens, so make sure you backup your system on a regular basis, especially when you make changes. Don’t lose all your work! Believe me, I’ve been there.

Backing up Dedicated Communication Devices

PRC Accent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKV8Jb5DJW4

This device backs up to a flash drive.

Saltillo Nova Chat: https://saltillo.com/support/article/how-to-back-up-a-vocabulary-file

Smartbox Grid Pad AAC: https://thinksmartbox.com/answer/backup-up-and-restore-a-user-account-in-grid-3/

When to Backup AAC systems

  • When you make edits
  • Before sending the device home on a school vacation
  • Every month to be safe
  • Before sending a device away for repairs (if possible)

Where to Keep Backups 

We’ve talked about keeping a light tech copy at home and at school. Any digital backups should be kept in multiple locations (with deference given to student privacy). This may mean that both the therapist and the parents have a copy on a flash drive. AAC devices that can be backed up to the cloud should be accessible to more than one person. Whether it be on a Google Drive, CHAT or PASS software (PRC-Saltillo), or in a Dropbox folder, be sure that several people know how to access the file and download it to the device.

TechOWL tip: Be sure to put the date in the name of your backup file. That way, you can reload the latest version of the vocabulary set.

Device Warranties

You should have a warranty for any mid or high tech AAC system. For iPad-based systems, there is Apple Care. Vendors of dedicated communication devices have their own warranty programs.

Who pays for the warranty? If the device is being used in school, you may want to ask the district to pay for the warranty. Tech happens! And when the repaired device is returned, you will want to restore the vocabulary from a backup file.

Device Replacement in Crisis Situations

Despite Covid-19, other disasters continue to occur, in 2020, there have been 30 named storms alone.  Speech Generating Devices may get destroyed or left behind. There are organizations that work to replace lost AAC. If you find yourselves in this situation, you may want to reach out to the Pass It On Center or USSAAC.