Dynamic AAC Goals Grid (DAGG)

The Dynamic AAC Goals Grid (DAGG), is an assessment and planning tool which is the result of a collaborative effort between Vicki Clarke, and the team at Tobii Dynavox.  Holly Schneider and Vicki began this project with the goal of giving professionals and families, supporting students using AAC to communicate, an organized system of assessing their student’s current communication skills and determining goals to move them in a positive direction along a continuum of developing communication skills and competence. The DAGG has been through several iterations and continues to be studied and improved, even now, almost 15 years after it was initially introduced. Our agreement was that the DAGG would always be made freely available to anyone who needed it, and despite the improvements, the basic foundations are still there, and that is what we are discussing in this training. For our school teams, the DAGG gives us a means of evaluating an individual student's communicative competency and a means to move them toward independent communication skills.

The Dynamic AAC Goals Grid-2: Assessing AAC Skills and Competencies to Inform Intervention & Show Progress

At the inception of the DAGG, we were debating possible topics for an assistive technology conference.  It happened that both of Holly and Vicki had recently been contacted by several SLPs and teachers looking for AAC goals to write on their student’s IEP.  We both had the same reaction:  we couldn’t offer examples of goals for students we didn’t know. Despite the wide variety of skills and needs seen in students who use AAC, we saw the same basic goals on IEPs:

  1. Student will use symbols to indicate a need to go to the bathroom.
  2. Student will choose desired items/activities for leisure.
  3. Student will choose a desired snack/drink.
  4. Student will greet teachers and peers using AAC.

From this discussion we began developing the Dynamic AAC Goals Grid, a tool that is now freely available in a few different formats. The Dynamic AAC Goals Grid-2 (DAGG-2) is a tool that allows you to assess and describe your AAC user across 2 domains, communication skill level and communicative competence.  Professionals look through a hierarchy of goals, across 4 domains, to determine the skills their AAC user has mastered, can accomplish with varying levels of prompting (support) or those that have not yet been attempted.

Using Janice Light’s targets for Communication Competency in AAC, goals are organized as Linguistic, Operational, Social or Strategic.  Linguistic goals are those that address language development and use, and include vocabulary knowledge (semantics), length of messages (syntax), use of word endings (morphology) and literacy skills.  Operational goals are those that address a person’s ability to operate and maintain their communication system.  These goals include targets such as turning your device on/off, changing the volume, and troubleshooting repair needs. Turn-taking, greeting and requesting clarification are social targets addressed. Finally, strategic goals help us focus on over-coming the functional limitations of the AAC system.  Goals in this area include gaining partner attention, requesting the device and actively engaging partners.The goals are organized by communication skill level, offering a set of goals at 5 different levels:  Emergent, Emergent Transitional, Context Dependent, Independent Transitional and Independent.  The abilities skill levels were informed by the work of Dr. Patricia Dowden, Ph.D. CCC-SLP.

In the schools, we have to justify continuation of speech/language and AAC service by showing progress.  The DAGG-2 allows us to report percentages of achievement and compare this achievement over time.  It allows us to consider different paths for communication growth, target individually significant objectives, and to document a patient’s journey toward independence. Goals worksheets and periodic progress charts help us individualize goals for each patient.



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