Talking With Tech: A Quick Intro to AAC

If you haven’t met someone who uses an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) iOS app to communicate, you’re probably not sure what this is about. In this post, I’ll give you the basics you need to know to explore the growing tech field of AAC, focusing on the leading AAC iOS app, Proloquo2Go by AssistiveWare.


The First 10 Things I Want You To Know About AAC:

1. AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Augmentative refers to people who use AAC to add to their communication, (people whose speech is limited). Alternative refers to non-speaking people who use AAC as an alternative to communicating through speaking.

2. AAC apps are communication tools used primarily by non-speaking disabled people.

AAC tools were around long before the magic of iOS apps (non-speaking people have been using paper-based AAC tools since the 1920s!).

https://goo.gl/images/az21kH

Paper-based AAC tools are still used by AAC users who prefer paper-based AAC, users who don’t have financial access to AAC apps, and in situations for which AAC apps are not compatible (for example, activities involving water).

modern paper-based AAC tool

However, iOS apps have made AAC communication easier, more effective, and given them sound. These apps allow AAC users to communicate more independently and be understood by people who are not trained in AAC communication.

3. AAC apps enable AAC users to communicate their needs and wants, connect with others, and express themselves.

4. The leading AAC iOS app, promoted by Apple, is called Proloquo2Go.

It is available to users on iPads, iPhones, and apple watches. It looks like this:

sample Proloquo2Go homepage

Proloquo2Go gives users access to 400+ symbols to express themselves. This screenshot shows a sample homepage for an average Proloquo2Go user’s app. Buttons are either words or folders. When you touch a word button, the device speaks the word and adds that word to your sentence line at the top. Frequently used buttons are stored on a user’s homepage and supplementary buttons are organized into folders, which when touched, lead to a page with words of the given folder’s category.

For example, if you click this “Food” folder, it would lead to a page containing various buttons having to do with food, like this:

5. Each Proloquo2Go user has a personalized profile on the app.

Users, families, and educators can edit these personalized profiles to add specific buttons, but it is important to keep the motor plan the same, just like you wouldn’t want someone scrambling up the keys of your computer keyboard. There is a proven method to introducing new words, which you can read more about here:

https://www.assistiveware.com/blog/teaching-core-words-building-blocks-communication-and-curriculum

6. AAC apps serve a wide variety of users.

Some people use symbol-based communication like Proloquo2Go, others use text-based communication like this:

Proloquo4Text

7. Presume competence!

This means assume that everyone has something to say. Assume an AAC user understands everything you are saying to them/about them, and respect them as you would any other person.

Learn more about presuming competence here:

https://www.assistiveware.com/learn-aac/presume-competence

8. When an AAC user is speaking through their device, the sound will come from the device’s speakers, but you should look at them because it is their voice.

9. There is a supportive online community of AAC users, families of AAC users, educators who teach AAC, and allies who all want to make the world an easier place for AAC users.

AAC is like any other language: in order to teach it, you have to be able to speak it. AAC educators and families model AAC communication in a variety of situations when teaching an AAC user to use their device. The AAC online community is a great place for asking questions, sharing tips, and brainstorming ways to change the world for people who use AAC tools.

10. We need to expand access to this technology, so that anyone who would benefit from using it has access to it regardless of who they are, where they come from, or how much money they have.


If you want to learn more about AAC, check out these links!

AssistiveWare, the leading AAC app developer. A great place to start!

https://www.assistiveware.com/

AssistiveWare blog:

https://www.assistiveware.com/blog

Proloquo2go in app store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/proloquo2go/id308368164?mt=8

Also talk to me because talking about AAC is my favorite thing :)