There is no “one size fits all” to anything about AAC and many individuals will need to use a variety of options (non tech, mid tech, high tech (SGDs, apps on an iPad or iPhone or other tablet or phone), sign language, gestures, facial expressions, vocalizations, segments of videos for gestalts, handwriting, etc…) as part of a multimodal system to support communication across environments and situations.
An AAC app is often part of a successful multimodal AAC system. While there isn’t any “perfect” AAC app there are features in these apps that might make some a better “fit” over other options.
It’s similar to taking a test drive to find a form of transportation that you like and meets your needs at that point in your life. All cars have an engine, tires and seats. Your first car may have been very basic transportation. But think about your dream vehicle. What features would it have? Why would you choose it over a different option? Older individuals might prioritize safety features. A teen or single young adult might prioritize the “look” / how “cool” it is. A family with young children might prioritize how many car seats can fit and storage. Others might prioritize fuel efficiency and eco-friendliness. You might ride a bike, subway, train, take an Uber ride, take a ferry, paddle in a canoe, etc. None of these is necessarily “better” than another or the “best” form of transportation. The “best” option is the one that meets the needs of that individual in that situation.
In order to take AAC on a “test drive”, you need access. If you are an SLP or SLT and have an iPad, you can get access to several robust iOS AAC apps to try out with patients / students / clients.
Here are three FREE handouts with the details on how to get access:
* Symbol-Based AAC Apps: https://bit.ly/SLPsSLTsAccessToAACapps
* Text-Based AAC Apps: https://bit.ly/3Bqtnmn
* Visual Scene AAC Apps: https://bit.ly/3wTGBI4
* When available, please try the free version/free trial to take a look at an app before requesting an app code. App codes are limited and are intended for SLPs who do AAC evals frequently and need quick ongoing access during evaluations, feature matching & trial of options.
* The official process for requesting a code was verified for inclusion in each of these handouts and the feature matching charts.
* These app codes are typically NOT compatible with a mobile device management also known as a MDM-managed device. They require a standard non-managed Apple ID.
* Most app developers will ask for info regarding your role in AAC evals, how many you do in a year, where you are located, type of setting you work in, etc. to substantiate the need. It is likely that those working in a non-profit setting or school or specific geographic areas may be prioritized. App developers receive a very limited number of codes per app release or update so there will likely be waiting lists.
* Codes do expire so please make sure to redeem it immediately so it’s not wasted.
* When needing switch scanning as a method of access, be sure to also consider traditional SGDs that have built in switch ports that will likely provide a more reliable means of access. When exploring switch access on an iPad, it is important to try out any options (switches, switch interface, iOS Accessibility) being considered to insure that they will work for that particular user and within that particular AAC app. Seating, positioning and identification of the best type of switches and optimal switch sites are crucial for AAC users to be successful with this method of access. Please collaborate with that user’s PT, OT and/or AT specialist.
For those who only have an occasional need, please consider alternative means of trying that app:
* Some companies offer iOS-based SGDs that could be borrowed by contacting your local vendor rep for that company.
* Other companies that sell fundable iOS-based devices may also offer a short term loaner.
* Another option in the USA is to contact your state’s AT Lending Program. They will likely have iPads with AAC apps available for short term loan.
Want in-depth up to date info about the features in these apps? Check out “Three Feature Matching Resources for AAC Apps (comparing features in AAC apps)”: https://bit.ly/3aacFeatureMatchingResources. The chart for symbol-based AAC apps includes a free supplemental handout “Unique Features in Symbol-Based AAC Apps to Support Gestalt Language Processors”.
Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting
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