Speech / language impaired

Picture Symbol Systems for AAC

Picture symbol systems provide more concrete representations of concepts than abstract non-verbal systems such as Blissymbolics. Some sets of pictures have been designed specifically use for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) use; others are serendipitously useful. This article lists several sets of pictorial symbols and describes both their salient characteristics and how they are being used.

Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) (Mayer-Johnson)

PCS is an expanding set of symbols that use cartoon-like drawings. The Mayer-Johnson has 12,000 images in its PCS library. 

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Telecommunication Use by AAC Users

A variety of alternative strategies are available for telecommunication by people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, as well as individuals with speech disabilities who prefer to use their own voices. This article describes how augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users can make phone calls.

Etiquette

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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 Customizability

No matter how well thought-out an augmentative and alternative communcation (AAC) application may be, there will still be some situations that it does not cover. Apps may be modified in one of several ways:

  • Some apps allow vocabulary (words and/or phrases) to be added. This is particularly useful if the user has an unusual vocabulary--e.g., related to their profession--or wishes to speak large amounts of text on a repeated basis.
  • Some apps allow graphics to be added. This helps personalize the app, particularly if the graphics show family members or other images relevant to the user's life, and may increase motivation.
  • Some apps allow users to set presentation preferences (voice qualties and speed, text size, etc.) These can then be reconfigured if the user's needs change.
  • Some apps are basically authoring programs for the user to create whatever vocabulary they wish. These provide the greatest amount of flexibility for users who need highly customized tools.
  • Some apps have no customization capabilities. These may be helpful for users who appear more interested in playing with program options than communicating.

This article lists the relevant apps under each category of customizability.

Apps that Allow Vocabulary to be Added

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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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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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