Etiquette in Communicating with AAC Users

Because communication using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) may be much slower or more difficult to understand than standard speech, many people may try to interrupt to finish an AAC user's sentences, or avoid interaction altogether. Below are some tips to make communication between AAC and non-AAC users more comfortable and fruitful. These are adapted from the following sources: the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC), the Waisman Center, and Voice for Living.

  1. Treat AAC users as you would anyone else. Do not treat them as special or fragile.
  2. Never talk about someone who is present during a conversation. Talk to them.

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Using Pictures in Mainstream Communication Programs

Adding pictures to standard communication tools such as address books may provide important visual cues for people with learning or other cognitive disabilities -- users can contact people without knowing how to read or write their names. This article contains information on ways that Macintosh and Windows computers and mobile devices support this feature.

Adding Pictures to Email Address Books


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Mounting Systems for Electronic Devices

Mounting systems are often needed to hold specialized or mainstream devices to wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or stationary objects such as desks, counters, beds, and walls. They provide a way to accommodate the user's ability to reach or operate the device, or a cognitive disability. They work well in public settings and institutions, where the device must be easy to find and use, but protected against theft. Mounting systems have evolved to handle many devices and environments. This article provides an overview of available mounting systems, including what to consider when selecting a system.

When considering mounting systems, keep the following in mind:

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Free AAC Software for iPhone/iPodTouch/ iPad Devices

Many free alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) apps are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. This article summarizes the capabilities of the most useful of these apps as well as providing links to the products' iTunes pages.

For an introduction to AAC, please see the articles on Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What Is It? and Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) -- What are the options?


One benefit of using free apps is that they can be used to explore whether AAC is beneficial to an individual, and what type of AAC is beneficial, without requiring a financial commitment beyond the necessary hardware. They also tend to have simple designs so that they are very intuitive and can be used with little or no training or configuration.

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Cognitive Training Software

Cognitive training can be used to address behavior issues in children, memory loss in elders, and other cognitive skills. This article lists some software that's currently available and provides suggestions for what to look for when selecting cognitive training software.

Cognitive Training Software for Basic Skills

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Assistive Technology for People with Visual Disabilities

Tools that provide access to people who are blind or have low vision are available to help with a variety of tasks, including telephone use, cooking, self-care, and even carpentry. These tools usually provide output in at least one of three ways: audio, magnification, or braille.

Note: For information on computer access, see our articles on magnification, refreshable braille, and screen readers. For information on magnifying printed text, see our article on CCTVs.

Telephone Access

Large button telephones can make dialing easier for people with low vision. They may have additional features, such as audio amplification.

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Developing Alternative/Augmentative Communication Layouts

Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) require customization so that the device is appropriate to each user's capabilities and needs. This article covers the steps to take so that there is a good fit between the strategy and the user.

Establish what the user wants to communicate

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Accessible Technologies for People With Hearing Loss

People who are deaf or hard of hearing need access to audible information.  This may be:

  • part of a computer interface (such as alerting tones)
  • a movie sound track
  • a voice conversation on the phone

This article covers some of the accessibility solutions for both groups of users.


Computers usually have error and alerting tones, and both Windows and Macintosh have a setting that flashes the screen whenever the sound is played.

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iPad Extras: Mounts, Switches and Other Peripherals

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
1:00 - 2:00 Pacific Standard Time

Wondering what mounts, switches, and other peripherals to get for your iPads? Jennifer was too. She'll share with you what she bought, what she didn't, what she liked, and what she's learned through this process.

Wondering what mounts, switches, and other peripherals to get for your iPads? Jennifer was too. She'll share with you what she bought, what she didn't, what she liked, and what she's learned through this process. The archived webinar is here: iPad Extras: Mounts, Switches, and other Peripherals

Login or sign up for a free membership to register for this training.

Assistive Technology and Elders

When considering assistive computer technology for elders, three issues need to be addressed: how will they need to be accommodated, what technology exists to provide accommodations, and how can these technologies be presented so elders will use them.

How Do Elders Need To Be Accommodated?

For elders, disability exists on a continuum of severity. Some disabilities are a natural part of aging and are generally mild.  Other disabilities rise in incidence with age, and may be mild to severe. Finally, more people with mild to severe long-term disabilities are living well beyond retirement age.

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