enABLING Teachers -- Activity #7 -- Classroom or online discussion

Teach about AAC Features instead of Devices

Suggestions for Educators:

It is impossible for any teacher to keep up to date on every device or even low tech strategy. It will be just as difficult for the clinicians you are teaching to keep up after they graduate. So, don't teach about specific devices; teach students the FEATURES or characteristics of all of the devices. This will arm them with the ability to quickly evaluate anything new on the market in the future.

Step 1. Assign online reading about features at UW Augcomm

Step 2. Give students a "Feature Review" assignment

1. Assign online reading about features

Have your students visit the UW Augcomm web site. On that site, there is an overview of the features of AAC devices and strategies entitled "Understanding AAC Features". Students should read through all of the following sections on this site:

1. Output Features
2. Access Features
3. Selection Set Features
4. Message Composition Features
5. Other Features

2. Give students a "Feature Review" assignment

Have students review AAC devices (or even low-tech strategies) with these features in mind. This assignment could be homework, using the information available on the Internet, or it could be something they do during a hands on lab. The purpose of the assignment is to have the student write down the features that are available on the device. For example:

Output Features: The Pathfinder has auditory, visual and electronic output. The auditory output options include both text-to-speech (synthesized speech) and digitized speech. The visual output options include a transient screen display with printed text. There is no hard copy print out for the partner. The Pathfinder can be used to control electronic devices or the computer.....[etc]

Here are some ways to do this:

  1. Assign a device or allow students to select from a list. The more complex devices offer a greater challenge in terms of a features analysis. The small devices with digitized speech are much simpler to describe.
  2. Design a format for the student to use for each device to be reviewed. You can use this Features Summary to design this worksheet.
    • If you have advanced students doing a homework assignment, you might have them describe all of the features. Be sure to ask them to indicate the sources of information they used, and give them permission to write DNK next to a feature that is not described on the manufacturer's web site.
    • If you have less advanced students, or your students will be working in a lab with limited time, make up a worksheet with only the features of most interest to you or most relevant to that lab.