A PrAACtical Guide to Stepping into AAC

May 16, 2024 by - 2 Comments

A PrAACtical Guide to Stepping into AAC
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Parents of children, teens, and adults who are learning to use AAC often find themselves in need of more support than they typically receive. Today, we are excited to launch a new series that addresses this need. This series is built around a unique collaboration between PrAACtical AAC and the Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF), bringing together our expertise to create a set of training materials that caregivers can use to build an AAC presence in their lives or expand its use in daily living situations. These materials are now available on both of our websites, ready to empower and support you in your AAC journey.

In today’s post, you’ll learn about the Stepping Into AAC program and how to access the materials. Future posts will focus on the implementation of AAC by families who want to enhance communication at home and in the community.

Who is the target audience for Stepping Into AAC?

The program is designed for families and caregivers who want to begin supporting robust AAC use throughout the day. It is appropriate for those who are just getting started with AAC and those who used it previously and would like to re-engage with it. 

What ages are covered in Stepping Into AAC?

The program is not age-specific and is appropriate for children, youth, and adults with complex communication needs.

Is it only for people with Angelman Syndrome?

No. While the focus is on individuals with various presentations of Angelman Syndrome, the information, resources, and practices you will gain in the Stepping Into AAC program will benefit individuals with a wide range of disabling conditions. They can be used to support individuals with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, certain genetic syndromes (e.g., Cri du Chat, Down Syndrome, Phelan McDermid), and other developmental disabilities. It may also be useful to some individuals with traumatic brain injury. 

Do I have to have an AAC device to use Stepping Into AAC?

No. If you have an AAC device that includes the core vocabulary words that are covered in Stepping Into AAC, that will be very helpful. However, most families just starting out will download one of the communication boards offered in the Stepping Into AAC program. AAC companies such as Assistiveware, PRC Saltillo, LAMP Words for Life, and Tobii Dynavox graciously allowed us to use the manual communication boards associated with some of their AAC apps. Additionally, Project Core gave permission for their communication displays to be distributed as part of Stepping Into AAC. 

How long is the Stepping Into AAC program?

The program runs for 20 weeks and contains 100 days of AAC content.

What will families who use the Stepping Into AAC program need to do?

  • Get AAC materials ready to use
    • New to AAC: Select, download, and print a communication board to use throughout the program. (Guidance is provided for selecting a communication board to use.)
    • Re-starting AAC: Get the communication device charged and ready to go. Re-familiarize yourself with it and check to be sure it has the core words that are used in this program. 
  • Do 5 short, hands-on activities each week.
  • View 2-5 short videos (ranging from 3-13 minutes each)
  • Review handouts related to those videos
  • Read a short AAC newsletter each week.
  • Implement the ideas and suggestions discussed in these materials.

Will someone guide us in using Stepping Into AAC?

Not necessarily. These are stand-alone materials for families to work through. We strongly encourage families to connect with their loved ones’ therapy and/or educational teams and collaborate on AAC implementation. The Stepping Into AAC materials include a document with sample verbiage that families can use to tell their team about Stepping Into AAC, share weekly resources, and set an expectation for increased AAC support at the program’s conclusion.

What is the cost of Stepping Into AAC?

All Stepping Into AAC materials are free.

Who developed the materials?

Stepping Into AAC was developed by Carole Zangari, Tabi Jones Wohleber, and Rachael Langley with the support of Michaela Ball and Krista Hadeed Larson. Other contributors included Erin Sheldon and Marlene Cummings. Many families and individuals with Angelman Syndrome enhanced the program with their insights, interviews, photos, and videos.

Where can I find these materials?

Stepping Into AAC is available both on the ASF site and here on PrAACtical AAC.

How can we get started?

You can begin exploring the materials using the links above at any time. In the weeks to come, we will publish additional posts on implementing the Stepping Into AAC program.

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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Achilles says:

    I’m an AAC user (still learning my device and sadly don’t have an “AAC team” and this seems like something that’s genuinely useful to even us AAC users!

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Achilles, it is really geared to people who are supporting AAC users but I do think there are some parts that will be helpful to new AAC users as well. Thanks for your message!

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