Pioneering AAC Technology to aid our children and young people’s communication

October is International AAC Awareness Month, which seeks to raise awareness of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and the many different ways people can communicate using electronic devices.  Here we introduce you to some of the AAC devices used by Seashell Trust’s therapy team to help our children and young people to express themselves and communicate effectively. 

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those who have difficulty producing or understanding spoken or written language.  Every child and young person at Seashell Trust is thoroughly assessed by our specialist therapy team to identify the most effective communication system for their individual needs.  This assessment includes looking at whether they might benefit from having a high tech AAC device to support their communication. 

Thanks to donations from Seashell Trust’s generous supporters, the state of the art Tobii Dynavox i-110 and GridPadGo 11 are two examples used by some of our children and young people to aid communication.  Many of our young people use a communication system such as picture exchange, signing or communication books and these AAC devices seek to enhance these systems rather than replace them.

The vocabulary rich software means that Seashell Trust staff can teach new concepts and extend each child or young person’s vocabulary during everyday activities.  They help develop understanding of verbs, descriptions and concepts such as ‘big’ and ‘little’, ‘stop’ and ‘go’. As we’re fortunate to have the devices on site, they can be accessed throughout the day which ensures more opportunities to communicate and develop skills.

Our AAC devices support lessons as well as language development.  They are currently being trialled by children and young people who may have visual and/or hearing impairments. Some have been so successful with their trial devices that applications for their own device are being completed by the therapy team.

While many of our children and young people sign, not everyone understands sign language in the wider world. Communication aids help our pupils and students to communicate with others when they are in the community, for example when shopping or undertaking work experience. 

Seashell Trust’s AAC devices help our children and young people to express themselves to a range of people in a variety of situations.  By learning to communicate effectively, they build confidence and independence.