5 Ways to Promote Consistent AAC Use

October 29, 2013 by - 4 Comments

5 Ways to Promote Consistent AAC Use
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Work with someone who uses AAC but not as consistently as you would like? Here are some thoughts on how to make an impact in that area.

1. Write goals that help you fight this battle. E.g., Janie will use her AAC system to ask for help at least once per activity; Jimmy will use his AAC system to answer 2-3 curriculum-related questions in each class period; Given her AAC system, Jenny will use the correct morphological endings for plurals and past tense at the beginning or ending of each group activity.  

2. Be an AAC cheerleader. In most settings, it is the adult who sets the tone for how communication will proceed. If it isn’t important to US, then it will never be important to the AAC learners. So, we try our best to use AAC 5 Ways to Promote Consistent AAC Useevery time we see the learner. It takes some work to build the habit, but this is something that pays off in a big way. Get out their device or book or whatever. Then YOU use it to speak to them. Point/press the symbols as you talk. This is a key intervention strategy (aided language input) but has the added value of making AAC more ‘present’ in the life of this learner. The more YOU do, the more THEY (other adults) will do. Expect others to do only a fraction of what you model. So, if we want them to use it more, WE have to use it more.

3. Call out the positive. E.g., “Jimmy, I LOVE seeing you with your communication book! When you have it, you can tell me what you want;” “Ms. M, I am thrilled to see Janie with her AAC device. I know you have so much going on in the classroom and it’s so awesome that you made this a priority!”

4. Advocate: Bring this up whenever you see the learner and the AAC is not being used. E.g., “Jimmy, you look like you have something to say. Let’s get your communication book so you can tell Ms. M what you are thinking;” “Jenny, I have a question for you. Where’s your device? We need that so you can answer.”

5. Track usage. Do some data collection to document how often the AAC is being used, when, and why. Graph that and use it to start a conversation about how to improve this. Most high tech AAC devices have this kind of tracking feature. With the learner’s/family’s permission, turn it on and review it periodically. Teach families to do that nightly so that they can see what the usage looks like in school. Share this with the team so  that everyone is aware that the history of what is being said with the device is being reviewed. Sometimes, the pressure of knowing that helps people implement more frequent device use. Share these data at meetings, or informally with team members.

Do you have ways of promoting consistency in AAC use? We’d love to hear them!


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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Claire says:

    This is good advice, and I have a question. If the AAC user is a two-switch scanner, should i use the switches to model or can I use direct select?

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Great question, Claire. I usually use direct selection to model the language. The motor learning piece (switch activation) isn’t helped that much by observation anyway. Hope that makes sense.

  • Nova Bridges says:

    Thanks for the useful information! I have a student who uses TouchChat on an iPad. Do you know if TouchChat has a tracking feature?

  • April Hill says:

    I will use the switch as a model as well when I notice the student is getting frustrated with making multiple mistakes. Demonstrating difficulty among other users (like myself) shows that everyone can have the problem.

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