AAC Parking Spots
As AAC practitioners well know, the ideal place for an SGD or communication board/book is on or near the communicator at all times. They may wear the device on a harness, carry it with a strap or handle, or have it mounted on a wheelchair so that it is easily accessible throughout the day.
It’s clear: The best situation is for the device to be within arm’s reach of the communicator at all times. In the real world, however, it can take years to turn this best practice into a reality. In the meantime, it can help to find a space in each room or section of the classroom where the device will ‘live’ when not in use.
What’s an AAC Parking Spot?
Simply put, this refers to a designated place for the AAC device in each room of your home or each section of your classroom. When the AAC device is not being actively used, we can put it there so that the communicator and communication partner always know where to find it.
In Rayna’s preschool classroom, where there is a good deal of messy sensory play, art activities, and experiential learning activities, the Parking Lot for her AAC device is on top of some low shelves at the entrance to the Book Nook. Benjamin’s SGD is almost always with him since he wears it on a harness. When he goes to the cafeteria, gym class, or his PT sessions, Benji uses a small communication book instead. At those times, his device ‘lives’ on a small table near his teacher’s desk. In both cases, students participated in identifying the Parking Spots and selected visual supports (labels) to mark their purpose. Rayna’s team created a few options and she selected a cute ‘Talker Town’ graphic adorned with a favorite character. Benji, who is older, opted for a more discrete placemat that has a black silhouette of his device.
The Parking Spot should be in a highly visible location that is easy to access, such as a designated spot on a specific table or shelf in the classroom that is easily accessible to students. At home, the Parking Spot might be on a coffee table in the family room or in the corner of a low dresser in the bedroom. Since you’ll likely be charging the device overnight, you might want to locate the bedroom Parking Spot close to an electrical outlet. Mark the placement with a visual support so that everyone knows where it goes. Pro Tip: Use the main screen, page, or overlay as the visual support. Print and laminate multiple copies so that you can affix them to the Parking Spots around the house. That way, you’ve created a backup method of communication that can be used when the device is not around or during an activity where device use isn’t the best option.
This post was written by Carole Zangari