- Alternative and supportive communication - who is it for?
- Alternative and supportive communication - differences
- Alternative and assistive communication - types of methods
- Alternative and supportive communication - the use of modern technologies
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Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) is a group of methods that allow people who are speechless or speaking to a limited extent to communicate with their surroundings. It involves the use of signs in communication based on gestures, pictures, symbols, and objects. AAC helps people with speech disorders to express their thoughts, feelings and make independent decisions.
Alternative and supportive communicationmeans otherwiseAAC , meaning from English:Augmentative and Alternative Communication . It covers all communication methods that use non-verbal signs: gestures (e.g. sign language), graphic signs (pictures, pictograms, symbols), objects (e.g. word blocks). Its purpose is to enable or facilitate communication for people with speech disorders.
Alternative and supportive communication - who is it for?
AAC is most often used in the case of people with cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation, and stroke. The users of alternative and supportive methods of communication can be children, adolescents and adults alike.
The selection of the appropriate method is made by a team of specialists who in each case develops an individual communication system. Depending on the degree of disability of a given person and the specificity of the disease, doctors determine the type of signs used, provide the necessary aids (boards, books, electronic devices), and give detailed instructions to the patient and his caregivers.
Alternative and supportive communication - differences
Although the purpose of both methods of communication is the same - helping people with disabilities - there are some differences between them.
Alternative communicationis used in the case of people who have completely lost the ability to speak, eg as a result of a stroke, or have never acquired it and are unable to learn it. In such patients, alternative methods are to completely replace the spoken language.
Supportive communicationis dedicated to people who use speech in a limited way, for example, speaking slurredly. Then the help consists in enriching their communication skills and facilitating communication.
Alternative and assistive communication - types of methods
There are 3 most important groups of communication methods in AAC:
- manual sign systems- communication takes place through gestures, eg sign language, phonogests, Makaton language, Coghamo; this type of communication can only be effective for patients who do not have motor problems;
- graphic sign systems- Bliss symbols, PIC, PCS, Rebus pictograms, a method of facilitated communication (for people with autism), the MÓWik program;
- systems of spatial-tactile signs- Premacka word blocks, Lorm alphabet.
As specialists emphasize, there is no one universal communication method that would be effective in the case of all types of disability. The choice of communication method is strictly dependent on the individual characteristics of a given person, their predispositions, skills and personal preferences. Sometimes the best results are achieved by using several communication methods simultaneously.
Alternative and supportive communication - the use of modern technologies
More and more often, communication between people with disabilities is mediated by electronic devices: speech synthesizers, devices with recorded speech, computers with touch screens, pointers, and specially designed mice and keyboards to facilitate navigation. They are the most convenient to use and best suited to the needs and abilities of people with motor disorders.
There are also AAC communication programs available for computers, tablets and smartphones. An example is MÓWik - an application for Android devices that allows you to communicate using ready-made boards with symbols.Worth knowing
Thanks to the use of modern technologies in AAC, even people with extreme disabilities can communicate their thoughts, feelings and views, and also take an active part in public life. The most striking example is the story of Stepehen Hawking, a British astrophysicist who has been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis since the age of 21. The progress of the disease led to his complete paralysis. Despite this, the scientist is able to communicate with the environment using an advanced speech synthesizer. Until 2005, he navigated using his hand, thanks to which he could produce up to 15 words per minute. Currently, due to progressive paralysis, he operates the computer with the help of his cheek muscles. Together with scientists, he is working on a system that will be able to translate the impulses from his brain into speech.