AAC Applications, Equipment and other Tools

Starter Systems and Comprehensive Communication Books

Vicki Clarke
June 15, 2023

Starter Systems and Comprehensive Communication Books

Vicki Clarke
June 15, 2023

AAC systems include many different communication supports, not just that shiny new AAC app! Light tech books have a place as part of a wider system for supporting communication. In this article we are helping you get "started" with these useful "starter systems!" You will read about the different light tech books, sources for printing these books, and considerations for choosing which of these books might be right for your student!.

Comprehensive Communication Books, at a minimum, are comprised of fringe vocabulary (noun categories and describing words), core vocabulary (high frequency words, typically verbs, pronouns and a few descriptors) and quick comments. These are typically hand made but premade files are readily available from many authors in Teachers Pay Teachers and several communication device manufacturers.  These are a great introduction to communicating with symbols without sacrificing a rich vocabulary!​

Typical Components

  • Wide Variety of Fringe Vocabulary in Categories
  • Core Vocabulary Display
  • Quick Commenting Vocabulary
  • Keyboard (Alphabet)

Download & Print Today!

You don't have to know how to select and organize vocabulary to create a good communication book! Multiple speech generating device manufacturers offer light tech books which mirror their applications. Saltillo/PRC offers premade downloadable versions of their widely recognized AAC systems.

Saltillo Lite-Tech Books

LAMP Words for Life, Unity, PRC Word Power & More!

Do It Yourself Screen Shot and Go!

You can access robust AAC Applications for your iPad or computer to print your own boards. Several free non-speaking versions of AAC applications offer "in app" print options. Others can be printed by simply taking a screenshot! Some options are TD Snap, PASS-NuVoice (Accent with LAMP and Unity/Unidad) and Chat Editor (TouchChat, NovaChat and including Word Power).

A unique communication book you should check out is the PODD Book.  PODD stands for Pragmatically Organized Dynamic Display book.  It is a communication book designed to be used with both the student and an adult partner. The organization is very unique and based on Pragmatic Starters.

You start by choosing the reason you are communicating- "something to say," "something is wrong" or "I want something" for example.  These symbols lead us to turn to a page to follow up with what we started.  For example, "something is wrong" might lead to a page of complaints.  PODD books are used for both students who can touch to select a message, or who need to hear their choices from a partner. PODD books are amazing solutions for students with visual impairments, as partners read out choices and the student indicates a "that's it/yes" or give no response, "no" or "not that."

Considering the Use of Generic AAC Flipbooks...pretty cool, but let's talk about the purpose!

NOT a Robust AAC System:

•Does not lead toward use of a published comprehensive communication system

•Does not offer morphological/syntax support

BUT,what’s it for?

  • Visual Supports for  speaking & non-speaking students who are learning vocabulary, expanding MLU, understanding semantic categories
  • Modeling the use and value of AAC supports for students (and adults) as they gain comfort and acceptance of alternate forms of communication in the classroom.
  • Assessing a student’s understanding and use of core vocabulary, ability to pair core words with specific nouns/adjectives when considering an AAC solution
Available from multiple authors on TeachersPayTeachers.com (us too!)

DTA AAC Flipbook 2.0- Build Your Own!

Based on the words and messages in our high tech AAC Devices, our DTA AAC Flipbook 2.0 gives students access to

  • 5-10 Social and Needs Messages (blue tabs),
  • 11 Categories of Fringe Vocabulary Strips with over 50 different Sub Category strips, each with 5-10  Words/Symbols per "flip."
  • 36 location Core Boards based on the Project-Core.com suggested first 36.  

Manual with including a directory of the up to 700 symbols available in these books!

When to Choose a Light Tech Book or a High Tech Dynamic Display?

Light Tech (or printable) communication books are, at best, starter systems for AAC users! Starter Systems have all the basic components of a published robust system, but with some limitations

•May not have voice output

•More limited vocabulary (but with all components represented)

•More limited messages

•May have simplified, or partner dependent access

Given these limitations, you may be asking yourself,

Why would we ever recommend starter systems?

Here are a few simple situations which may indicate the need for a starter system.

•Teachers,paraprofessionals or families may be reluctant to work with a dynamic display device. Sometimes a paper book is less intimidating and allows us to "see" all of the words at once. Unlike an AAC app, touching a symbols doesn't mean pictures appear and disappear!

•Students are highly distracted by technology and need a light tech options for academic instruction.

•For use as a backup if the device isn’t working or available (beach or bathtub??)

•Team is waiting for a device to be funded/delivered and can begin learning symbols,use and location on pages.

Selecting a light tech communication book

If your student/child has a high tech system and you are only seeking to create a backup system, print a light tech book which is as close to the child's device as possible, by printing pages from the application, downloaded premade backups from the manufacturer. Links above!

If you are providing supports for a classroom, consider what AAC systems are already in place for individual students. Try to match these systems as much a possible to be used as backups, or for the adults to model communication for the student.

For a classroom where the students do not have robust systems,and a specific type of AAC application has not been recommended or put into place yet, you may choose to create a communication book which matches the systems you plan to use in the future, or you may choose a generic flipbook, understanding that you are simply teaching students the use of symbols for communication, the look of specific types of symbols, and encouraging participation.

Communication is Communication! There is no ONE solution to providing AAC supports and light tech books can be a GAME CHANGER for our students using AAC!

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