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Suffolk Center for Speech

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Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) Devices

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), assistive technology (AT) is defined as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities” (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004).

The IDEA is a law that requires free and appropriate public education for individuals with disabilities. This law makes free education available nationwide and ensures that special education and other services are provided to qualifying children (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004). The IDEA focuses only on children with disabilities, excluding adults with disabilities.

The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 was a law signed by President Bush on October 25, 2004. This law expanded upon the IDEA by providing assistive technology (AT) to anyone, child or adult, who has a disability that can be enabled by an AT device as a means of serving or minimizing decreases in functioning, maintaining function at its current level, or to achieve a greater level of functioning (Bausch, Mittler, Hasselbring & Cross, 2005). Under the AT, the hope was to “increase the availability of funding for access to, provision of, and training about AT devices and service” options for individuals with disabilities (Bausch et al., 2005). In addition, the new law strived to increase the involvement of individuals and family members in the process of choosing devices, increase the publics ability to provide AT, and increase public knowledge and awareness of the benefits of AT (Bausch et al., 2005).

I wanted to attach a no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech device that are all great options for children and adults that would benefit from an AAC device.

NAME OF DEVICE: Communication Board

The first device that I would like to introduce is a communication board. This would fall under classification of a no-tech device. Access features involve the user pointing to the desired symbol. It is also possible to utilize PAC, in which the communication partner can point to the symbol and the user can vocalize to select an option. The communication board contains 47 symbols, all of the letters of the alphabet (24) and numbers 0-9 (10). Utilizing this board, the individual can combine letters to express hundreds novel words and messages. The user may use their hands to point to their selection, vocalize during PAC, or utilize a laser attached to their hand or their head as a means of making a selection. This communication board utilizes visual output (primarily via pointing). The communication board is 10 X 14-inch and on laminated paper with multi colored symbols and images. The board may be mounted on a tray or attached to the individual’s wheelchair providing convenient access to the board. The board is very portable and easy to use.

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NAME OF DEVICE: TechTalk

The second device that I would like to introduce is the TechTalk. This would fall under classification of a low-tech device. As far as access features, this device utilizes light touch membrane activation. The TechTalk contains overlays that are all interchangeable and are compatible with Mayer Johnson Boardmaker Software. Users are also able to print out their own symbols/messages and easily insert them into overlays. These devices offer devices that offer 6, 8 or 12 level options. This device allows the user to program and record 48 to 96 independent messages on 6, 8 or 12 levels (8 messages per level). Messages are activated when the user touches the intended message. When the message is activated, the message that was recorded is played. The device permits the user to playback 48 to 96 distinct messages, each being 4.5 seconds in length. There is also an option to have 9 seconds per cell in recording length. The TechTalk with 8 levels contains picture squares that are 3.5 inches in size. The dimensions of the device are: 13.12 inches x 8 inches x 3 inches. The weight of the device is 3 pounds and it is available in the following colors: black/gray or white/blue.

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NAME OF DEVICE: Nova Chat 8

The second device that I would like to introduce is the Nova Chat 8. This would fall under classification of a high-tech device. The device offers a dynamic display that is accessed via touchscreen. The device offers single and dual switch scanning. Users may utilize the touchscreen by finger touch or an included stylus. This device offers a variety of vocabulary options are provided including pre-loaded vocabulary sets such as: WordPower, Basic Scan, Communication Journey: Aphasia, my Core, etc. In addition, thousands of symbols are available utilizing SymbolStix symbols and PCS. Additionally, this device enables the user to utilize both symbol and text-based input. There are also a variety of output possibilities which include, a child’s voice, teens voice, in addition to different accent options for adults. Acapela voices are also available. Multiple languages are available including: English, Spanish, German, Dutch, and Canadian French. As far as physical features go, this device has an 8-inch display and weighs 1.3 pounds. Dimensions are as follows: 8.2 inches x 5.6 inches x 1.3 inches. The device comes with a rubberized protective shield that is offered in numerous colors such as blue, green, purple and gray.

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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (2004). About IDEA Retrieved from: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/about-idea/

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (2004). Sec. 300.5 Assistive Technology Device. Retrieved from: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/regs/b/a/300.5

Bausch, M., Mittler, J., Hasselbring, T., Cross, D. (2005). The Assistive Technology Act of 2004: What Does it Say and What Does it Mean? Physical Disabilities: Education and Related Services, v23 n2 p59-67 Spr 2005

– Alexandra F.

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