Communication occurs all day, every day, in every aspect of our life. Access to communication affects many things, and it has a big effect on our quality of life. Communication is fundamental in literacy development and for participation in education, as well as our participation in wider society. And, most importantly, it is a human right. (United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).
Every individual with complex communication needs requires people around them who believe in their right to communicate. They also need a communication system that enables that right. The people around them must believe in their ability to learn language – and we need to implement aided language input and other forms of language/communication teaching and learning to get this started. Then we once more need to show our positive attitudes and our belief as we attribute meaning to their first communication attempts and then continue to support and encourage them as they move to more and more complex systems. All of this is extremely important, because if we “do not have the skills and commitment required to provide supports for AAC system use, abandonment of the system is likely” (Beukelman & Mirenda, 2013).
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is never just about the individual. It is a product not only of the individual who is using it, but also of the attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and actions of their communication partners and the systems around them. This session will use the Participation Model (Beukelman & Mirenda, 2013) to illustrate how we can improve our AAC assessment and intervention – and how we always need to be thinking about each individual’s communication “today” and the steps we need to put in place to help their
communication develop for “tomorrow” – and the systems we need to create and
develop for that success to occur.
Beukelman, D.R. & Mirenda, P. (2013). Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Supporting Children and Adults with Complex Communication Needs (4th ed.). Baltimore: Paul H Brookes Publishing Co. United Nations (1948). Universal declaration of human rights. https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights
Jane Farrall is a speech pathologist and special educator passionate about literacy, AAC and assistive technology. With over 30 years in the disability and assistive technology field, she has lots of practical experience working with people with a range of abilities. Jane has worked as both a therapist and literacy teacher. She has also worked as an assistive technology specialist and is currently working as an independent consultant, running workshops and consulting with schools around Australia. Her consultancy works focuses on implementing AAC and comprehensive literacy for all students.
As well as presenting workshops in Australia and internationally, Jane shares resources on her blog, her two websites and through online training – and she also has extensive experience running camps, workshops, and conferences on AAC and literacy in AAC. You can read more about Jane at www.janefarrall.com and find literacy resources at www.comprehensiveliteracy.com.
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