Communication

Improving AAC Efficiency

Whether an individual’s augmentative and assistive communication (AAC) strategy involves typing text or selecting pre-programmed options, there are strategies to improve the efficiency of their communication. This article discusses several strategies that can work well for many AAC users.

Improving Efficiency for Users Who Generate Their Own Vocabulary

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Free Speech Output Software for AAC Use

Speech output is usually an important component of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies. As an alternative to using specialized AAC equipment, individuals who are able to communicate by typing text may be able to take advantage of free text-to-speech software available for computers and mobile devices to meet their communication needs. This article discusses which options to look for in these programs, along with specific programs that may be useful.

Typing Echo vs. Readback

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iPad/iPhone/iTouch AAC Apps Sorted by Voice Output Type

Users of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) may have strong preferences about the type of voice output strategy their software uses. Some may want the clarity of recorded human voices, whether provided by the manufacturer or by someone on the user's end; others may opt for synthesized voices, since these can speak any text that's entered, although not necessarily with a correct pronunciation. This article sorts AAC apps by the voice output type; click on the product link to see more details about the voice quality and options for each app. (Some apps will appear in more than one category, since multiple modes may be available.)

Types of Voice Output

Synthesized Computer Voices

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Independent Living As We Age

In honor of National Falls Prevention day this Friday, Sept. 23rd, the National Council on Aging posted an article debunking the commonly held belief that the older we get the more likely we are to fall. They've responded to 10 popular myths such as "4. As long as I stay home I can avoid falling or 5. Muscle strength and flexibility can't be regained".

At the Accessible Technology Coalition we are all about how technology can promote and support living independently. There are many types of devices that can help to keep people active and strong as we age.

Regarding falls, technology may not be preventing them just yet but new fall detectors, with gyroscopes, mean that a fall can be reported even if the person can't press a button. One product and service from Phillips never needs charging and is waterproof.

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Technology Made Easier for Technology Averse People

While technology seems a clear boon to many people, including elders and people with disabilities, others may find it too intimidating. This article talks about products and strategies that simplify the process of using technology or that provide up-to-date capabilities via familiar products, such as televisions and refrigerators.

Not using current technology may present significant barriers, such as the inability to use an ever-increasing number of services that are only available online: applying for jobs, cutting through governmental red tape, or communicating with banks and other companies.

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Speech Amplifiers and Artifical Larynxs

Some people are able to speak, but cannot project enough volume. This article talks about 2 types of speech hardware: how they work and what models are currently available.

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How to Find an Augmentative Communication Professional

An evaluation of appropriate augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) equipment, performed by one or more professionals, is often a critical component of successful AAC use. This article talks about what to look for in an AAC evaluator, and how to find evaluators in your area.

Credentials

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Easy-to-Implement Communication Strategies for Newly Disabled Individuals

When someone temporarily or permanently loses the ability to speak, either through an expected cause such as vocal cord surgery or a sudden cause such as a stroke or head injury, they are still likely to have information they want to communicate. This article focuses on easy, inexpensive communication strategies that can be quickly implemented to meet the temporary need or to provide some means of communication until a more formal solution can be determined.

Vocabulary

First, think about what the individual is most likely to want to communicate, in consultation with the individual if possible. If they are in a hospital, they will likely want to express requests for medication, trips to the bathroom, etc., as well as for interaction with specific medical professionals, family members, and friends.

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iPad/iPhone/iTouch AAC Apps Sorted by Age Appropriateness

Some augmentative and assistive communication (AAC) apps for the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch have been designed for children, others will be best for adults, and still others are age-neutral. This article provides guidance on which apps to start with for each age range. However, these are not hard-and-fast categories; the link to detailed descriptions of each app will give you additional information to help with selection.

Note: Apps that are primarily used for typing and that have little or no default vocabulary are not included in this list, unless there is a particular reason; e.g., SpellNSay uses bright, child-oriented graphics as key labels.

AAC Apps for Children

By default, these tend to use more child-oriented graphics (pictures of children and/or juvenile cartoons) and/or text related to topics relevant to children, such as school.

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iPad/iPhone/iTouch AAC Apps Sorted by Vocabulary Type

Some apps have a general default vocabulary for everyday communication in a variety of settings. Others are for specific situations. In particular, there's a whole category of apps just for medical concepts such as pain level, which may be ideal for people who are newly disabled and need a way to communicate their most urgent needs. In some cases, the app doesn't have a built-in vocabulary; it's simply a word processor with built-in speech output, so that the user can type in what they wish to say and have it spoken right away, or have it stored for later retrieval.

This article helps you choose apps that have the most appropriate vocabulary. In some cases, an app shows up on more than one list; this is because the app has multiple modes--e.g., it initially presents a specific vocabulary but also allows the user to enter their own text.

AAC Apps for Typing Input

The apps listed below let users type in whatever they wish to say, and then press a button to have the text read aloud. Some of these allow text to be stored, and then retrieved and spoken as often as the user wishes. Some also include a word prediction dictionary to help with spelling or speed up the typing process.

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