Many people who are current with technology use a multitude of devices to assist them with their typical and daily communication needs. The idea that any one tool can be used for every form of communication is obsolete. Communication apps use various learning and cognitive profiles and these apps are available on the iPhone, iTouch and iPad.
As stated by the AAC-RERC (Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Communication Enhancement): “Mobile technologies offer a broad spectrum of communication operations as well as other functions. Not only have the devices themselves become smaller and multi-functional, but also the number of communications apps and tablet platforms is increasing more rapidly than AAC hardware or software ever did. At this writing, there are easily a hundred or more apps that can meet the needs of some individuals with Complex Communication Needs.”
You may be wondering what some of the benefits are of making use of mobile devices or tablets that use more cost effective apps as a system of communication. There are several benefits. Apps are typically of low cost and can be downloaded in a simple and easy manner. The AAC is not longer a mysterious function; it has been “normalized” so the average user is not confused. AAC is highly attractive to families with babies and toddlers, people on the autism spectrum and to individuals who are seeing AAC in a new light, making it more trendy and popular.
There are some drawbacks of the inexpensive AAC apps that need to be taken into account. There is little information available to make informed choices on which apps to utilize and what would work best for personal needs. Hidden monthly costs can be a surprise for users, people with sensory or motor impairments who cannot use a touch screen still have limited to no access to these apps. Insurances such as Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance companies will typically not provide funding for such apps, as they are not dedicated devices.
The following is to help you stay well informed about what is on the market. While exploring, remember the focus of augmentative and alternative communication is about helping others communicate more effectively and not about the technology and devices that drive the apps.