enABLING Teachers -- Activity #3 -- Classroom demonstration and discussion

Reducing emphasis on "Needs & Wants"

Suggestions for Educators:

Students focusing too much on "Needs & Wants" for AAC users?

Demonstrate the breadth of communicative functions and vocabulary through two types of resources on this website: video clips and personal profiles. Follow these links for detailed suggestions:

Option 1: Learning about diverse communicative functions in AAC

Option 2. Demonstrating communicative functions via video clips

Option 3. Demonstrating communicative functions via profiles

1. Learning about diverse communicative functions in AAC [Homework and classroom discussion]

Student Assignment:

Students should read the enABLES web page entitled "Promoting the Facts about the Purpose of AAC" at http://depts.washington.edu/enables/myths/myths_aac_purpose.htm

Class Discussion:

Discuss with students purposes of communication they saw on this page, then encourage them to list out on the blackboard all the different purposes that they have used communication for in the past 24 hours. Discuss what would happen in their own lives if they could not use communication for any of those purposes..

2. Demonstrating communicative functions via video: [Classroom]

To Prepare:

Browse the video clips for uncommon (but important) communicative functions in somewhat unpredictable circumstances.

To find these clips, go to the AT/AAC enABLES Search page: http://content.sphsc.washington.edu/qbuild/aac_proto.html

Find the section of the search page that looks like this

Functional Activity:

empty box here

Click on the black triangle to the right to open the drop down menu and select the desired functional activity. For this activity, you will want video that demonstrates unexpected conversations in routine contexts. Here are some clips that demonstrate that idea. [Note: The key search terms are shown in italics, the other words indicate which clip you want from the clips that are found in the search.]

    • joking at the pharmacy
    • recreating with Karaoke
    • worshipping at church

All video clips will appear as thumbnails on the next screen. You will usually see two versions: “.wmv” for Windows Media Player clips and “.mov” for Quick Time/MacIntosh clips. Click on the thumbnail once to show the video clip.

Note: Be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about searching on enABLES at:

In Class:

Before you show the clip, ask students to list the communicative functions that they believe would be necessary for that context. This will lead them to list the expected communicative functions.

Then show the video clip. For example, you could ask the students to list the functions and vocabulary necessary for going to the pharmacy, then show them Sharon King joking at the pharmacy. Similarly, you could ask them to list the functions and vocabulary necessary for going to a bar, then show them Scott Palm recreating with Karaoke. Similarly, you could ask them what functions and vocabulary are necessary for going to church, and then show them worshipping which highlights Sharon and Alan’s advocacy efforts on behalf of some members of the congregation.


3. Demonstrating communicative functions via profiles [classroom or online]

To Prepare:

Have students read the profile that relates to one individual as a homework assignment. If your discussion will be online, have them also view the video clips that are associated with that profile. If your discussion is in class, you can show them the clips in class.

A good example is the profile of Sharon Jodock King and all of her associated video clips that show the breadth of her life's activities. Sharon’s profile and clips are at http://depts.washington.edu/enables/profiles/prof_sk.htm

Leading the Discussion:

Ask students to compile a list communicative functions this individual (Sharon) clearly requires across all these contexts. Some possible discussions that could ensue:

  • Discuss whether it is possible to provide her with just the functions that might be expected in a given context.
  • Discuss any unpredictable communication that happens in their lives.
  • Discuss what would be missing from Sharon's life if she could not spell to create novel utterances and was dependent on others to supply her vocabulary for each context.