Handy AAC assessment tools for you

Whether we are looking at a communication app for a mobile tablet or a traditional speech generating device we still need to be considering the skills of the individual, features required in the device or app, the motivations of the end user and a whole host of other guiding principles to make the decision about the best communication options for someone with complex communication impairment.

What do you need to consider when you are trying to find an appropriate communication tool for an individual? First and foremost a good team of people who can gather information! And then you might like an assessment protocol or checklist of things to work through to help you do that.

These are some of the assessment protocols I have come across online. You can use them amongst a battery of other tests and they can also help to narrow down your choices of a speech generating device or an app for a mainstream mobile tablet. This is helpful when there are so many apps and devices out there to choose from!

  1. Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative – a volunteer network of assistive technology consultants have put together a comprehensive list of assessment checklists in a number of areas such as communication, assistive technology, reading, computers, low vision and more! I have used the Communication section a number of times to give me ideas on areas to consider when I am looking at communication options.
  2. I have also used this AAC assessment and feature matching checklist from Rocky Bay services in Western Australia. The speech pathologists used a grant to produce an information package about AAC, in particular communication devices. This package was developed to ensure local teams had access to quality information for training and support with an emphasis on the need for teamwork.
  3. Dynamic Therapy Associates, Inc. is a family-focused speech language pathology practice that have developed some protocols for AAC evaluation. They were developed with DynaVox devices in mind but they can certainly be used for other devices or apps you might be considering.
  4. Special Education Technology British Columbia has a great range of links to presentations and resources and I particularly like this table for considerations for AAC solutions which covers anything from cognitive, linguistic, and literacy abilities to symbol sets, access, device outputs and tasks required to be completed.

So have a look at these links and see if there is anything that might suit you. I’d also recommend heading to an assessment centre near you, where an assistive technology team can assess the individual and provide some recommendations to help you narrow down your choices. I know that it can feel like there are too many to choose from and it’s hard to know where to start!

And don’t forget to trial apps and devices where possible – if the end user can have experience in using the AAC tool in the settings where they require it, they can get the best idea about whether it will suit them or not.

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About Charlene Cullen

Charlene has worked as a speech pathologist, supporting people with complex communication needs and learning disabilities for the past 15 years. She has worked in a variety of roles within the Disability Services of Western Australia, including Senior Speech Pathologist, Rural and Remote Resource Therapist and Regional Team Manager.

Charlene is a trained Key Word Sign (formerly Makaton) presenter, certified Hanen It Takes Two to Talk presenter and a member of the Apple Consultants Network. Charlene is also an official Proloquo2Go / Proloquo4Text trainer, and TBoxApps Trainer for Therapy Box.

Charlene has developed strong skills in and a passion for, the area of AAC and assistive technologies. She enjoys presenting workshops and providing consultancy services to support and educate parents, teachers and therapists in the use and application of inclusive technologies.

Charlene is a full time member of the Professional and Consultancy Services Team at Spectronics.

AGOSCI State Representative for Victoria (2012-present); Key Word Sign Victoria committee member (2012-present).

2 Responses to Handy AAC assessment tools for you

  1. Ashley says:

    Hi, Charlene,

    Thank you for sharing this educationally rich information! I am wondering where I can find the link for the doc. you posted, “Considerations for AAC Solutions,” on the Special Education British Columbia website. I would like to find the name and link of the doc. on their website. If you know, I would very much appreciate it.

    Thank you,

    Ashley (Second year SLP graduate student)

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