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Posted on October 25, 2017

Simple AAC – 7. Always Available


If an AAC learner does not have access to AAC, then how will they ever learn to use it?

Or if they only have access to AAC at specific times of the day or week, just think how much longer it will take them to learn, than if they had it there all the time.

This one seems fairly obvious, but sadly, it’s all too common to hear the words “I’ll just go and get his device”.

Of course, there are reasons why an AAC learner might not have their device with them all the time – it’s on charge, or it’s not wheelchair mounted yet, but sometimes the reason is simply that the device is only being used at specific times of the day.

Low tech back up

Now, there is one time when it’s okay not to have the device available, and that’s when you have low tech AAC available!

Low-tech just means that it’s something without batteries, like a symbol communication board or a communication book.

This could be a printed version of their high tech communication grids or it might be a core board which is used by the whole setting, or could be something specific to the topic being talked about.

WordPower 100 – low tech

Either way, individuals learning AAC must have access to their language at all times.

I visited a school once who truly believed in AAC being ALWAYS AVAILABLE, to the point where they had symbol communication boards on the walls in the toilets – because the AAC learner might still want to chat, even when using the toilet!

A recent study by Andzik, Chung & Kranak (2016) found that a group of children using AAC were given about 17 opportunities every hour to respond to communication, but on almost half of these occasions, they didn’t have access to their AAC system!

If they don’t have it – they can’t use it!

Jess uses PODD in Grid 3 to talk with her sister Anna.


Jess uses her low tech communication book to say how much she loves the picture that her friend made for her birthday!

Reference: Andzik, Chung & Kranak (2016) Communication Opportunities for elementary school students who use AAC. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 32(4), 272-281.



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