Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide by Dr. Jeanne Beckman

Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide   by Dr. Jeanne Beckman
Finally, a book to help families find the right technology to accommodate reading disorders (dyslexia) and other disabilties! ISBN 978-1-60264-089-4

How to purchase my book

To purchase through Virtual Bookworm (my publisher) you can click Virtual Bookworm Publisher: Tech Psychologist's Guide or
Amazon no longer allows Illinois professionals to get credit for referrals to Amazon due to a sales tax dispute. I will be referring to Powell's in the near future.

What is that TinyURL notation that you see in my blog? For those who use a screen reader, the link that is hidden behind words like Tech Psychologist Guide remains hidden. However, screen readers can read aloud the website address, or URL, if it was produced by Also, sometimes these addresses are so long that they wrap around several lines or overlap into colored areas of a website that obscure the actual address. Intrigued? You can create your own tinyurl's at

Friday, November 2, 2007

Does AAC inhibit language acquisition?

Does it make sense?

There are still teachers and other professionals who tell parents that children with delayed or absent speech should learn to speak "the regular way" instead of using AAC (Alternate and Augmentive Communication)devices. Years ago, they pushed this same theory for the deaf, not allowing them to use sign language in school. In reality, by not allowing individuals to have an effective method to communicate with others, they are destined to experience long-lasting social isolation, decreased skills and knowledge acquisition, and mental health symptoms.

Others who can benefit from AAC include adults who have suffered a stroke, ALS, surgery affecting vocal output, EVERY individual, even those with developmental delays (slow learning) and autism spectrum disorders, have a right to be able to express their needs, thoughts, and desires. If institutional decision-makers claim that disabled individuals "don't need" an AAC device that includes voice output, they are in essence forcing these individuals to a segregated, isolated life where they cannot communicate with "regular" individuals.
Here is an article that debunks the myths associated with AAC:

Does AAC impede natural speech?—and other fears
Even when a child's communication impairments are interfering with his or her cognitive, social and emotional development, some parents and practitioners are reluctant to introduce AAC. This is very understandable since AAC-based communication is frequently viewed as the solution of last resort, condemning a child to a lifetime of abnormal and limited communication. It is considered the end of all hope of natural speech, to be used only after years of failed speech therapy. (Berry, 1987; Mirenda & Schuler, 1988).

Nor does it mean the end of any hope of speech development. Children are frequently provided with communication programs in which speech is a major component. (See Multimodal communication.) In fact, since natural speech is the ideal mode of communication in many circumstances, it behooves a young child to continue with speech therapy along with AAC in order to develop his or her speaking ability to its fullest potential. In fact, numerous studies have found that the introduction of AAC frequently has a positive affect on speech; children who are given AAC often develop speech faster than they would have otherwise (Bodine & Beukelman, 1991; Van Tatenhove, 1987).

On the other hand, while it may be appropriate to continue to focus on speech, it is unfair to leave a child with little or no means of communicating effectively while undergoing years of speech therapy. A child who is unable to communicate effectively is unable to participate meaningfully in many activities, and is at great risk for delays in cognitive, social and emotional development. (See When does a child need AAC?) Thus, it is crucial that he or she be provided with at least some ability to communicate that offers some immediate control over people and the environment, and can be expanded or modified as necessary to meet the needs of the future.
The following table shows the most common fears and myths regarding the use of AAC, as well as research that refutes such concerns, and practical solutions that directly address these issues. Read more at:

If you have questions about how whether someone you know needs or might benefit from technology, please visit Dr. Beckman's website at, call her at 847-446-1251 (USA, or email her at

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