The first question you are probably asking is ‘what is an AAC device?’ AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. In real terms it refers to any piece of technology that assists people who are unable to communicate by verbal or written methods. Such devices provide assistance to some of the people ubu serve and have proven to be invaluable tools.
The devices vary in size and capability although their objective is always the same; to enable greater communication and therefore provide increased levels of independence.
What about our flashy Android or Apple devices though? Surely they can provide a way to deliver a similar service?
The answer, happily, is yes. Many of us have come to rely on our smart devices to perform all sorts of tasks. From video calls, to weather forecasts and even online shopping it seems there is no limit to what the technology in our pockets can achieve.
There have been many developments recently in terms of online communication Apps, including such software as ‘Scroll and Speak’, ‘Image 2 Talk’, ‘2 Can Talk’ and ‘Speech Buddy’ to name but a few.
One such App has been put to good use by one of ubu’s customers in West Yorkshire who, after purchasing an iPad was able to turn it into a new method of communicating his wants, needs and emotions at any given moment. He has found it to be incredibly user friendly, even adding his own pictures to the programme to increase its potential vocabulary, and told us that it has greatly improved his level of independence; now being able to clearly and concisely converse with the people around him.
This new technology means AAC programmes are more accessible and affordable than ever. The average price for such an App is around £10 which means many more people can find the budget to allow themselves to experience the incredible benefits offered by AAC.
What experiences have you had with AAC devices? Do you own one or do you know someone that does? Perhaps you could recommend a specific device as being a bastion of good design and functionality? We would love to hear your opinions on the subject as it is something that provides wonderful opportunities to genuinely improve lives.
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AAC Product Reviews
Of all the designs the most common and widely recognised is a tablet style device. They have fully programmable touch screens which display pictures and common phrases that the user pushes to be able to hold conversations, express feelings or ask for things when at home, out shopping or in restaurants etc.
There are speakers built in to the AAC device which have adjustable volume so that the user can ensure they are heard even if they are in a busy location. There are also a variety of voices that can be chosen so that the user isn’t limited to only one digitised generic voice.
As with most other technology these devices are very stylishly designed. They are lightweight and easily portable as well as possessing a wealth of wi-fi, Bluetooth and usb capabilities so that they can integrate with a multitude of other things like computers, mobile phones and even interactive televisions.
Most importantly they provide support for people unable to write or speak to take further control of their own lives, giving them more choices and more opportunities.
You can watch a great video of an AAC device in action here.