Using Gemiini to Support AAC
We use AAC all the time, for example, when you put your finger to your mouth to shush, smile across a room, or even text a friend you are using AAC.
AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and October is AAC Awareness Month. AAC describes communication that is outside of verbal communication. Augment and Alternative describe two different approaches:[i]
- Augmentative devices supplement natural speech. For example, a small portable amplifier can help people with limited vocal capacity communicate effectively.
- Alternative systems and devices replace natural speech. A keyboard text-to-speech program, communication boards, and sign language allow people without verbal abilities to communicate.
In earlier times, people assumed that if a person could not use their voice like others, there was no way that such a person could develop cognitive abilities.
Today, that archaic thinking has evolved 180 degrees. We now assume competence – meaning everyone has something to say and everyone can learn.
Despite today’s enlightened understanding, myths persist – for example, people might assume AAC will inhibit or stop their child from developing or using spoken words. From the standpoint of competence, all forms of expression promote and develop communication skills. Walters et al. (2021) studied two groups of toddlers, one group receiving intervention with AAC. The study concluded that the use of AAC did not impact spoken language development.
How can Gemiini Help Your Child with AAC
Gemiini can serve as a centralized hub for AAC activities – through its verbalization videos, sign language videos, and integration with speech devices and picture exchange systems:
Gemiini has 150,000 different videos in the video library that can be customized to meet specific needs. In addition to using the pre-made video clips, Gemiini users can also upload their own clips for an even more personalized experience.
Sign Language with Gemiini
Gemiini offers clips in both American Sign Language (ASL) and Australian Sign Language (Auslan). You can add sign language clips to existing videos or create your own videos. To search for sign language videos, go to the video builder, select either American Sign Language or Auslan, and type the word you want in the search bar.
Speech Generating Devices
If your child uses a speech-generating device, Gemiini can help your child expand their vocabulary. While your child watches Gemiini, you can model the words on the device. You can also upload your own clip showing where to find that vocabulary and add the video to the clips for that vocabulary word. The most important thing when using an AAC device is to model. When you use Gemiini to teach words, also model those words on the speech device. The goal is to expand vocabulary – starting with words from the child’s environment and expanding to words used in school. If your child enjoys riding in the car, play the video on car trips and practice “go car.”
Picture Exchange Communication System
Gemiini can also integrate with a picture exchange system to reinforce your picture words. Let the school know what words you’re working on to practice the same vocabulary at home and school.
From simple words, move to multiple words, and eventually form sentences. When your child is ready, Gemiini offers sentence drills. The key is to teach each individual word. With an understanding of each vocabulary word, your child can use their AAC systems and devices to create sentences of their own.
Select vocabulary words that are meaningful, motivating, functional, and individualized for the age and environment (Fallon 2001). For this reason, your vocabulary selections should reflect the child because everyone is motivated by different things!
Once you have chosen your vocabulary targets, model the words and sentences you have selected. A study by Binger (2017), found that combining vocabulary modeling with using those words during play decreased the time needed to learn and use targeted words.
Let’s recognize AAC month by using Gemiini’s ability to customize videos with meaningful and motivating words for your child.
About the Author: Inga Siler, MS, CCC-SLP, CPSP is a Speech-Language Pathologist with 16 years of experience in school and private practice settings. Inga used video modeling with students on her school caseload before joining Gemiini Systems, where Inga is the Speech-Language Pathologist Clinical Coordinator.