AAC for Adults with Communication Difficulties

AAC for Adults with Communication Difficulties

Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Adults

Communication is what binds us in every sphere of our lives. The use of language and technology distinguishes human beings from animals. However,  there are adverse events that steal our ability to express feelings and desires. By the same token, the need for technology, be it low tech or high tech, comes into play here. Over the years, technology has revolutionized the scope of speech, language and communication. This may sound crazy, but technology can completely re-establish broken communication pathways.

By way of example, the movie “The Theory of Everything” is a look into the relationship between the famous Physicist Stephan Hawkings and his wife Jane Hawkings. With a diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Stephan Hawkings slowly starts to lose his motor functions, eventually, he finds it difficult to speak or walk. Likewise, This movie portrays how his disease did not stop him from communicating with his wife. Moreover, just as speech, technology can also act as a medium through which an exchange of information is possible.

Communication difficulties can be caused by conditions ranging from depression to cancer. The role of a speech-language pathologist is to help individuals effectively communicate their needs or desires to their partners or loved ones. SLPs try to establish healthy communication patterns. It can be long-term or short-term, based on an individual’s requirements. For example, if a person suffers from a neurological condition such as a stroke, the brain takes some time to organise all its lost connections.

Furthermore, during this period one may have difficulty speaking, identifying people, retaining information and communicating basic needs. In this case, the SLP provides easier communication alternatives to the patient’s caretakers and alternative modes of communication such as gestures, pictures, technology etc. This type of communication is used temporarily until the patient is cognitively and physically stronger.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) 

Augmentative and Alternative Communication is a medium of interaction which uses low-tech and high-tech devices. Conventional mediums of communication include speech, writing and gestures. Furthermore, when individuals cannot use these mediums of communication, they use AAC for Adults to meet their communication needs.

There are different types of AAC devices:

No tech/ Low Tech devices 

  • Writing 
  • Gestures 
  • Pointing to photos and written words

High tech Devices 

  • Communication Apps 
  • Speech-generating devices 

In addition, Here are some of the areas that research has helped us understand.

  • Age and Dexterity- Since High-tech devices are complicated to use, some aged individuals may find it difficult to operate them for their communication needs 
  • Movement- Paraplegic individuals require a specific type of AAC for Adults that allow them to communicate with just a movement of a finger or the blink of an eye. 
  • Temporary- Individuals who have just come out of surgery and cannot talk momentarily, require a type of AAC that have basic communication prompts 
  • Permanent – Individuals may need devices that have communication prompts that are more complex in nature. For eg, communication apps such as Jellow, Awaz

There is a common misconception that people who use AAC cannot enhance their verbal communication skills. This is not true! One of the functions of an AAC for Adults device is to support and enhance the existing communication skills while supplementing healthy communication patterns.

What does AAC contain?

People who live with expressive language difficulty have difficulty talking about normal things, like an interesting thing that they saw the other day! Moreover, here are some of the topics that are commonly available on AAC devices

  • Greetings and feelings
  • Daily Activities
  • Likes and Dislikes
  • Learning
  • Time and weather
  • Help/ Emergency
  • Places/ People

In addition, below are some of the pictures of the existing AAC devices that can be used by individuals who have communication difficulties.

Jellow Basic AAC Communicator – giving Voice to Speech
Jellow Basic AAC Communicator

Jellow Communicator is a friendly Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solution that uses icons to aid communication in people learning to speak or with difficulty with speech and language.

AVAZ Inc. – FreeSpeech
AVAZ Inc. - FreeSpeech
Single message communicators- Big Mack, Talking Tiles, GoTalk one
Single message communicators
PCS® Classic
PCS® Classic

The Classic style has been maintained for over 30 years. We continue to add more to this set as many of our customers have used this version since childhood and are now adults with additional symbol needs! Classic style PCS symbols offer flexibility and simplicity for our customers by providing basic colour palates, thick black lines and options for gender-neutral avatars

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