AAC Implementation

Talking WITH AAC vs. Modeling AAC - Bridging the Gap Together

Vicki Clarke
October 11, 2023

Talking WITH AAC vs. Modeling AAC - Bridging the Gap Together

Vicki Clarke
October 11, 2023

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems play a crucial role in enabling individuals with communication disorders to express themselves effectively. AAC devices, ranging from simple picture boards to high-tech speech-generating devices, can empower students with disabilities to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs. In the journey of AAC adoption, it's essential to consider how adults, including teachers, parents, and partners, engage with AAC systems to support their learners. In this blog post, we will explore the two primary approaches: "talking with AAC" and "modeling AAC," emphasizing the importance of adults learning to communicate with AAC before expecting their students to do the same.

Understanding AAC Communication

1. Talking WITH AAC

Talking with AAC involves adults, whether they are parents, teachers, or partners, and learners actively engaging in communication using AAC systems simultaneously. This approach encourages a collaborative environment, where both parties use AAC tools to converse, ask questions, and share information. For adults who are new to AAC, this approach may feel less intimidating as they embark on this learning journey together with their learners. Here's why:

a. Shared Experience: By communicating with AAC alongside the learner, adults can experience the challenges and triumphs of using AAC firsthand, fostering empathy and understanding.

b. Real-Life Application: Adults can immediately apply what they learn to real-life situations, making AAC communication more practical and relevant.

c. Reduced Pressure: The idea of "talking with AAC" doesn't place the entire burden of modeling on the adult, as the learner is also actively participating, making the learning process feel less daunting.

2. Modeling AAC

Modeling AAC involves adults demonstrating how to use AAC systems effectively, often as a means to teach learners. While modeling is a crucial component of AAC instruction, it can initially seem intimidating to adults who are unfamiliar with AAC. Here's why:

a. Learning Curve: Adults must become proficient in using AAC systems before they can effectively model them for their learners. This requires time and effort to learn the software, symbols, and navigation.

b. Pressure to Be a Role Model: Adults may feel pressured to be perfect role models for their learners, fearing that any mistakes could hinder the learning process.

c. Limited Interaction: The traditional "modeling AAC" approach may lead to less interactive communication between the adult and the learner, potentially slowing down the learning progress.

The Importance of Learning to Talk AAC

It's crucial for adults, whether they are parents, teachers, or partners, to learn to "talk AAC" before expecting their learners to do the same. This approach offers several benefits:

1. Building a Strong Foundation: Learning to use AAC alongside the learner allows adults to build a strong foundation in AAC communication, ensuring they can provide effective guidance and support.

2. Developing Empathy: Engaging in AAC conversations fosters empathy and understanding for the learner's communication challenges, leading to more patient and supportive partners.

3. Promoting Independence: When adults become proficient in AAC, they can empower their learners to use AAC systems independently, knowing they have a reliable support system.

Final Thoughts…

In the journey of AAC adoption, the choice between "talking with AAC" and "modeling AAC" depends on various factors, including the learner's needs and readiness. However, it is essential for adult partners, whether they are parents, teachers, or partners, to recognize the value of "talking with AAC" as a starting point. This approach not only reduces the intimidation factor but also creates a more inclusive and supportive communication environment. By learning to "talk AAC" alongside their learners, adults can bridge the gap and empower their learners to communicate effectively and confidently using AAC systems.

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