Speech Communication

Speech Communication

Speech/Communication Assistive Technology - the What, When, Who and Why

What is Assistive Technology for Speech/Communication? Another term commonly used to describe Assistive Technology (AT) for speech/communication is: Augmentative and Alternative Communication or AAC.  AT in this category includes speech-generating and voice amplification devices, supports for expressive language like writing/typing/word prediction, graphic organizers and software to support sentence development, supports for receptive language like accessing text with Text-to-Speech options, even devices with delayed auditory feedback.  This category encompasses any and all means of communication other than oral speech.

Two children laughing and chattingWhen do I need to use them? People with speech communicate all of the time across all environments, so a person using AAC will need access to his AAC system/device all of the time!  Remember that behavior is communication, so when a person with a speech impairment or disability is acting out, throwing fits, or stonewalling, this - in and of itself - is communication and can be a “red flag” indicating a communication tool may be needed.

Who needs AAC? Anyone who is not able to speak intelligibly whether face-to-face or long distances (Ex. on the telephone or via social media/email/etc.) would benefit from AAC.  This includes those who are born with disabilities affecting their speech (Ex. Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome), those with acquired disabilities (Ex. Traumatic Brain Injury, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Stroke), as well as those with temporary needs (Ex. Intubation during medical procedure prohibiting person from speaking).

Why do people without speech not use AAC? Sometimes people are not aware of the tools available to assist people who have trouble communicating verbally.  Speech pathologists get very little training on AAC, so they may not always know how to help match a person with a communication tool.  Parents are sometimes scared that if their child uses an AAC device then they will not develop speech, and there are also misconceptions on how to pay for these communication tools (See Commonly Asked Questions for more information.).


Information on this page addresses Assistive Technology for people with speech/communication disabilities in...

EDUCATION   |  EMPLOYMENT  |  COMMUNITY LIVING
(click the titles above to jump to the content area)

For more information, please contact Allyson Robinson, M.A. CCC-SLP,
at allyson.robinson@okstate.edu or 405-744-4608

EDUCATION

AT-Disc-SpeechCom-Hdr_Triptych-Ed

Talking Points for Assistive Technology for Speech/Communication in Education

The category of Education encompasses children - young and old - who are participating as a student whether at the pre-school, elementary, middle/junior/high school levels as well as institutions for higher education. The following talking points are most applicable to students grades pre-school through high school.

For children transitioning into the public school at age 3 - To ensure successful AT transitions for children turning 3 years old, it is important for any AT the child is currently using or may need to use in school, whether written into the child's Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or not, be incorporated into the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). You'll find this information in the Community section below.

For students transitioning into the community or employment settings upon high school graduation - To ensure successful AT transitions for students aging out of school services, it is important for any AT the student is currently using or may need to pursue employment outcomes, whether written into the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) or not, be incorporated into the student's Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). IPEs are developed through collaboration with the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) using a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor. You'll find this information in the Employment section below.

Situations where a student might need assistive technology for speech/communication:

School Environment

  • Whole class lessons/activities/assignments
  • Small group activities
  • Classmate comments/engagement during lunch or play
  • Therapy sessions – OT, PT, Speech Therapy
  • Assemblies

Socialization

  • Meeting with friends
  • Sports coaching
  • Music, games, TV
  • Groups and club activities

Family / Home Environment

  • Conversations at home
  • Meal time
  • Bath time
  • Homework
  • Morning and nighttime routines
  • Family outings and errands
  • Traveling in the car
  • Using the phone/computer
  • During emergencies

Community

  • Field trip
  • Sporting event
  • Church or Sunday school
  • Movie theater
  • Grocery store
  • Doctor's office
  • Plays or musicals
  • Dining out
  • Other family settings

Commonly Asked Questions about AAC

Please listen to this section and/or download a transcript here: TXT format

Solutions for Students with Speech/Communication Needs:
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Helpful Links & PDF Resources
The Prentke Romich Company (PRC)
success stories profile individuals who communicate using AAC, parents of children who use AAC, speech pathologists, teachers, and other professionals who are in the field of AAC -
Tobii Dynavox– a part of the Tobii Group, highlights success stories from the unique people who DynaVox supports.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Guides and Articles:
AT Technical Assistance Guide
AT Self-Assessment
Autism, AAC, and Proloquo2Go (PDF)
LAMP: Language Acquisition through Motor Planning - AAC Strategies for Promoting the Development of Communication for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (PDF)
AAC Boot Camp: Getting AAC Users Communicating (PDF)
App Resources:
Best iOS apps for generating speech
Spectronics iPhone/iPad Apps for AAC
Video/Webinar/Podcast Resources
Video: Basics of AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)
Defines AAC and includes low-, mid-, and high-tech solutions for people who have difficulty using speech to communicate.
Video: Free to Low-Cost Assistive Technology Solutions
Explore free to low-cost (under $50) AT solutions for multiple disability categories including communication.
Podcast: AT Assessment in the Schools
This Podcast is an interview with Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s speech pathologist, Allyson Robinson, and includes information on conducting AT assessments for students.
Webinar: Speech Communication

Funding Sources for Students with Speech/Communication Impairment

The following resources are from ABLE Tech's listing of OK Funding for AT and specifically give guidance on providing assistive technology for speech/communication devices to those with disabilities in Oklahoma:

EMPLOYMENT

Speech Communications Employment Matrix

Talking Points for Assistive Technology for Speech/Communication in Employment

The category of Employment encompasses those people of working-age who are currently employed or who are seeking employment. The following talking points may be applicable to individuals with disabilities as well as employers.

When matching a person to a piece of assistive technology, one can use the Human Activity Assistive Technology (HAAT) model. This model has been used below in the sample case studies.

For students transitioning into the community or employment settings upon high school graduation - To ensure successful AT transitions for students aging out of school services, it is important for any AT the student is currently using or may need to pursue employment outcomes, whether written into the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) or not, be incorporated into the student's Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). IPEs are developed through collaboration with the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) using a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor.

Situations where an individual might need assistive technology for speech communication:

Work Environment

  • Interview process
  • Meetings
  • Trainings
  • Daily tasks

Socialization

  • Work lunches
  • Social media
  • Telecommunication
  • Group and committee activities

Family / Home Environment

  • Talking on the phone
  • Paying bills
  • Preparing for work

Community

  • Doctor's office
  • Shopping for essentials
  • Transportation to, and from, work

Commonly Asked Questions for an Individual Who Might Need AT for Speech Communication

Q - What laws allow me to ask my employer for assistive technology?

A - There are several laws that require employers to accommodate and provide assistive technology as a reasonable accommodation, including the Americans with Disability Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


Q - I am a qualified person with a disability under the ADA. I need assistive technology to do my job. May I ask my employer to provide it?

A - Yes. The ADA says that one of the ways your employer can provide a reasonable accommodation to you is by providing new equipment or modifying existing office equipment or assistive technology to perform the essential functions of your job (core duties). 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o)(2)(ii). On the other hand, tasks that are marginal (non-essential functions) to the work you do, do not require that your employer provide you with a reasonable accommodation. 29 C.F.R. 1630(n)(1). Your request must not impose an undue hardship on the employer. 29 C.F.R. §§ 1630.2(p), 1630.15(d).


Q - When can I ask for an assistive device?

A - Your right to assistive technology is available at all stages of a job including application and employment. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o)(1).

Q - What types of assistive technology can I ask for?

A - The ADA does not limit the type of equipment you can ask for. Anything that helps you do your work may be a reasonable accommodation. It may be a simple tool such as a one-handed typewriter for a person who can only use one hand or a high-tech device such as specially manufactured communication equipment that allows a person with a speech impairment to communicate.


Q - What do I need to do to get the right assistive device for work?

A - The process begins with letting your employer know that you have a disability and need an assistive technology to do your work. Next, you should ask for a meeting to discuss your specific needs. If you or your employer know enough about assistive technology, you can agree upon what meets your needs. You should document the contents of your discussion and the terms of your agreement.

Your employer is not required to purchase the most expensive or the most recently developed equipment. In fact, your employer does not have to purchase anything if your needs can be met some other way. Your employer cannot rely on the cost of an item as a reason to do nothing unless there are no other alternatives and the employer can show the cost will be an undue hardship. Instead, when one option is ruled out, the employer should consider other reasonable alternatives. If there is no reasonable choice because devices are all too costly for example, you should be given the chance to provide it yourself.


Q - What can I do if my employer denies my request for assistive technology?

A - You may file a complaint with an agency and a lawsuit in court. In most situations you must file a complaint first before you can go to court. For more information please see our publication, Employment Rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, available at:
http://www.disabilityrightsca.org/pubs/PublicationsEmployment.htm.

Solutions for Individuals with Speech/Communication Impairment
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Funding Sources for Adults with Speech/Communication Impairment

The following resources are from ABLE Tech's listing of OK Funding for AT and specifically give guidance on providing assistive technology for hearing devices to those with disabilities in Oklahoma:

COMMUNITY LIVING

AT-Disc-Speech - CommLiving-Hdr_Triptych

Talking Points for Assistive Technology for Speech Communications in Community Living

The category of Community Living encompasses infants and toddlers who are under the age of 3 and not yet in school, those people who were born with or have acquired an injury and are otherwise participating in community activities (not as students or employees) as well as those who are aging in the home.  The following talking points are applicable to individuals with disabilities as well as family members and others providing support and care to these individuals with disabilities.

Sometimes an individual will make it to adulthood and have the necessary assistive technology to participate in the community and at home.  When that is the case, these pages will show other considerations regarding accessibility and accommodations.  When the person requires additional tools to participate, the Human Activity Assistive Technology (HAAT) model will be used to show how an individual might best match up with a piece of AT to be used in the community and at home

For those children transitioning into the public school at age 3 - To ensure successful AT transitions for children turning 3 years old, it is important for any AT the child is currently using or may need to use in school, whether written into the child's Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or not, be incorporated into the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Link to Education section

Situations where an individual might need assistive technology for Speech Communications

Socialization

  • Play dates
  • Meal times
  • Dates
  • Support Groups
  • Social Media
  • Telecommunication

Community

  • Doctor's office visits
  • Hospital
  • Shopping
  • Transportation to, and from, events
  • Volunteer activities
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Library
  • Grocery stores
  • Department stores

Family/Home Environment

  • Talking on the phone
  • Paying bills
  • TV/Radio
  • Doing chores
  • Games
  • Computer tasks/games

Commonly Asked Questions for a Person Who Has Speech Communications Loss - Impairment - Needs

Q - What is SoonerStart?

A - In Oklahoma, infants and toddlers through 36 months of age who have developmental delays or have a physical or mental condition - such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism - can qualify to receive services through a program called SoonerStart.  SoonerStart services are free and may include: Diagnostic and evaluation services, Case management, Family training, counseling, and home visits, Certain health services, Nursing and Nutrition services, Occupational, Physical and speech-language therapy, and/or Special instruction.  Services take place in the child’s natural environment which is typically the child's home or daycare, but can extend to other settings within the community.

SoonerStart providers serve infants and toddlers in all Oklahoma Counties. Oklahoma ABLE Tech collaborates with SoonerStart to provide assistive technology (or AT) kits in all regions of the state. These kits are used by SoonerStart providers to demonstrate AT to young children in order to help them do something that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to do!  When helping young children communicate, SoonerStart providers have access to basic switches and toys as well as mid-tech speech generating devices including BIGmack switches and Seven-level communicators. These tools can help a young child develop the foundational communication skill of cause-and-effect as well as help them in communicating ideas in single words, phrases, and/or sentences. For more information, visit sde.ok.gov/sde/soonerstart–families.

 

Q - Who can help purchase assistive technology for infants and toddlers as well as adults living with developmental or acquired disabilities in the community?

A - There are numerous entities, both public and private, in Oklahoma that can fund - either partially or completely - a person’s needed assistive technology including DME or durable medical equipment. There are several factors that you can use to narrow down your funding resource search: age of the person with a disability, type of disability, type of AT needed, location in Oklahoma, financial criteria, etc.  Start by scrolling down to the bottom of this page! You’ll see resources listed that specifically fund speech/communication AT and DME for those young and old in the community. For a complete list of funding resources visit fundingguide.okstate.edu.

Solutions for Individuals with Speech Communications Loss - Impairment - Needs
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Funding Sources for Persons with Speech Communications Needs

The following resources are from ABLE Tech's listing of OK Funding for AT and specifically give guidance on providing assistive technology for hearing devices to those with disabilities in Oklahoma: