Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an invaluable tool to support communication. However, getting an AAC team on board can be a challenge, particularly when it comes to getting all members including SLPs, educators, and families to implement AAC across the day and settings. In this post, we will go over the steps that teams can take in order to get the AAC team on board with implementing augmentative and alternative communication.

Step 1: Identifying the Team
The first step in getting an AAC team on board is identifying the people who will be supporting the AAC user.  It is also important that the team consists of people who are knowledgeable about both AAC devices and strategies and have experience working with children who use them. The ideal team would include members from a variety of backgrounds, including speech language pathologists, teachers, special education professionals, parents, therapists, medical professionals, and more. The team will consist of individuals with AAC knowledge whose role is to support the teams growth in knowledge and confidence.  

A tool that I have found to be helpful for my team is the AAC Roles Chart.  I use the AAC Roles Chart to define who is in charge of making sure the device goes from class to class.  Who charges it at the end of the day or makes sure it goes home with the student.  The roles chart is a tool to help you keep the device where it should be when it should be there.  For your free copy, follow this link.  

Step 2: Educating Team Members
Once you’ve identified the right people for your team, it’s time to start educating them on AAC devices and strategies. This can be done through formal trainings as well as informal conversations and modeling about how best to implement AAC across settings. One great way to get everyone up to speed is by providing training in the AAC users environment. Go into the classroom and model how to support the individual during group and individual lessons.  Bring family members in for training and strategies for implementation at home.  Because scheduling can be challenging, think about recording and allowing team members options to view on their own schedule.  

Have you thought about having your district do AAC specific training for staff development?  I recently started doing AAC training for staff development.  This can be done for SLPs, educators, and all team members.  Because an AAC user is learning and accessing their curriculum across a variety of settings and with different individuals having a trained team is critical.  This is a good point to bring up with your admin!  If you are interested in reaching out to your district for AAC training, let me know.  I have some materials that I have created to send to district admin.  I am also happy to reach out and share training options.    

Step 3: Establishing Goals & Priorities Once everyone is up-to-date on their knowledge of AAC devices and strategies, it’s time to set some goals and priorities for using AAC across settings. This should include setting clear expectations for how often each member should be using AAC devices with students/clients as well as discussing any concerns or challenges that may arise during implementation. It’s also important to discuss how each member can support one another during this process; this may involve providing feedback or offering additional resources if needed.  This is the perfect time to demonstrate and implement an AAC Roles Chart.  

Step 4: Taking Action The last step in getting an AAC team on board is taking action! This includes putting all of the information learned into practice by utilizing AAC devices and strategies in various settings such as classrooms, therapy sessions, home environments, etc.. It’s also important to measure progress along the way so that any adjustments or changes can be made accordingly.  I have created an AAC Implementation Plan to help put strategies to use and measure what is/is not working.  

Finally, it’s essential that regular check-ins are held between all members of the team so that everyone remains on track with their goals and objectives related to implementing AAC across settings.

Implementing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) across settings requires teamwork from all involved parties—including SLPs! Though it may seem daunting at first, getting an effective AAC team on board does not have to be difficult if you follow these simple steps outlined above—identifying the right people for your team; educating them; establishing goals & priorities; taking action; measuring progress—you will soon find yourself with a successful group of committed individuals ready to make a difference in providing quality services for those who need them most!

Don’t forget to sign up for your free AAC Roles Chart and other support tools.