3 Outstanding AAC Devices and their benefits

Date:
22-Aug-2022
Author:
Pravin Kumar

If you are a person with Disability (PwD), AAC devices are the only way to effectively communicate with your caretaker or people around you.

We live in a time where communication is key in every aspect of life. It allows us to express our thoughts and opinions, convey information, ask for what we want, and provides us with the mindset of freedom.

And when we think of communication, we often think about vocal and text-based communication.

But what if somebody faces difficulty in speaking out or typing out a text? Wouldn't they have to rely on other sources for communication?

Yes, yes they have to.

It can be physically and mentally straining to rely on somebody for constant communication. But thankfully owing to the advancements in technology, there is a solution.

Welcome to the world of Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices (AAC devices) - a technology that is making a big impact on accessibility and communication.

In this blog, we will discuss how AAC works and what are the different types of AAC devices available in the market. We will also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using an AAC device, and provide some recommendations for purchasing an AAC device.

Table of Contents

What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)?

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices are those that help someone with a speech or language impairment to communicate. This can be a temporary solution (ex: people after surgery or a child learning to talk) or a permanent solution (ex: somebody with a vocal disability).

Several devices use this concept, allowing you to use commands and gestures to perform specific tasks (Like waving at the camera) using the power of image pre-processing.

AAC devices come in many different types and forms, ranging from pointing with hands to using speech generation devices. Some of their benefits include better communication and reduced dependence on keyboards or translators. As a person with a speech or language impairment, He/she can use aac devices as an alternative communication device and their benefits in order to make the most of your communication abilities. A speech-language pathologist or slp often recommends a communication device that matches the requirements of the PwD to improve their communication skills along with vocabulary

AAC device has made it possible for individuals with speech disabilities and intellectual disabilities to communicate through computers in a way that is more independent and fulfilling.

AAC devices and their benefits 1
Picture Courtesy - Assistive Tech

How does an AAC device work?

Like a regular communication system, the AAC system also had an input and output stream. The only difference is, however, that the input fed in is not a speech signal. The input fed is usually in the form of symbols, hand movements or gestures, eye pointing and blinks, vocalization or facial expressions. Based on user commands, the corresponding output is taken into account.

Some users may require one while others may need a combination of two or more AAC devices to perform the required tasks. These devices can either be voice-activated or keyboard-controlled.

AAC devices and their benefits 2
Picture courtesy - ScopeAust

Types of AAC Devices

There are a variety of ways to use aac (AAC) devices on the market, so it's important to find the right one for you. Sometimes these aac devices can simply be an App. Not all AAC devices are created with the same objective and some are more effective than others. It is worth spending a little time researching different models and their benefits so that you can find the right device for you and your loved ones. Using an AAC device can improve communication and reduce reliance on oral language skills. Additionally, be sure to use the device for its intended purpose only.

At large, AAC is broadly classified into 2 types:

Unaided Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Unaided AAC)

This type of AAC does not require any physical aid or tools. It involves low-tech options like body language, facial expressions, hand movements, special gestures, sign language (for the deaf community), physical queues or eye gaze

Aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Aided AAC)

This type of AAC requires external aid and tools. External aid can involve getting training from a speech-language pathologist(SLP). It also involves things like symbols, pictures, flashcards, keyboards, PODD books, speech generation devices, apps, etc

Benefits of using an AAC device

Although there are different types of AAC devices, each has its own advantages. As an aac user, some of the most popular devices include the ATA and DSC devices. Both of these devices are beneficial for people with a range of conditions, including Asperger's Syndrome. They can improve communication by allowing people to have more direct conversations. Additionally, people with an AAC device often feel calmer and less stressed when using them.

Some of the note-worthy benefits include:

  • Freedom to perform basic communication-related tasks, thereby giving more freedom to the user
  • It helps people with special needs network with their social circles better
  • When used for children who are learning how to talk, AAC devices help parents understand their child's needs
AAC devices and their benefits 3

How To Purchase The Right AAC Device

There are a variety of AAC devices on the market and it can be a bit overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs. Before making a purchase, you have to do some research on which device is best for your needs. It is important to consider device size and weight as well as any potential voice recognition or hands-free capabilities. Ensure that you check on all the specifications and benefits that the device has to offer.

There is no 'right' device since each one caters to different people with different requirements. Understand what suits and works best before selecting the device. For example, somebody with limb disabilities may prefer an AAC device that is controlled by eye blinking, over the ones that require hand gestures.

Limitations of AAC Devices

There are a number of different types of AAC devices available, and each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Some common disadvantages of AAC devices include difficulty in hearing vocals clearly and distortion when listening to music or audiobooks. Even if there are a variety of AAC devices on the market, some have disadvantages that should be considered before making a purchase. Make sure you're aware of any potential problems with the device before purchasing it so you can avoid them.

AAC devices have a number of limitations. So ensure that you're aware of any potential problems with the device before purchasing it so you can avoid them. Some of the limitations include:

  • Some AAC devices rely on a user’s verbal communication to be understood
  • Users must manually adjust the device’s settings and use a voice recognition tool to initiate and respond to communication requests
  • Some people with speech and language impairments find it difficult to use aided AAC devices, and they may not be able to use them effectively

Conclusion

AAC devices are a life-changing technology that can help people with communication and hearing disabilities to live a more independent and fulfilling life. By understanding the different types of AAC devices and their benefits, you can decide which device is right for you or someone you know. Therefore by leveraging such innovations, one can use technology to access technology.

If you are person with Disability such as carpal tunnel syndrome or similar disability, and you would love to use a mouse with just your head movement. You might be interested in Mouseware.

Do check Mouseware in this link to learn more, Mouseware - Enabling Handsfree usage of smart devices

If you like our blog and wish to learn more about such devices, visit our blog. Share your views with us.

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