Without doubt, Assistive Technology, including Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems and strategies, can be life-changing!
There is no ‘one fits all’ model, however, and certainly no ‘magic wand’ solution– low, light & high technology tools can most definitely improve quality of life, but using AT to help you fulfil your potential is a lifelong journey that requires teamwork throughout. Equipment alone cannot be the answer; it is essential that you find the right equipment for you, and that you and those around you have the training and ongoing support you need in order to use it effectively.
Very few people manage to get the most from AT in isolation: individuals, families and professionals all need to work together from the first step of identifying a need, through to the ongoing support of the long-term goals of the individual.
It’s absolutely vital that an assessment is carried out before a communication aid is chosen, and we’re not saying that to drum up business for ourselves!
It’s essential to build up an accurate picture of a person’s abilities before trying to identify a suitable communication aid. We believe that this is best done through a multidisciplinary assessment, where variables such as seating, mobility, access, motivation, educational needs and cognitive levels are all taken into account.
It also makes sense to try out a communication aid before making a decision about purchase. Sometimes the children and adults that we assess trial quite a few aids from our extensive loan library of equipment before making a final decision. Their skills change over time too – as does technology – so the suitability of an aid needs to be regularly reviewed.
Once a communication aid has been purchased, everyone involved with the individual – family, carers, teachers, therapists etc. – will need to know how to use the aid suitably and effectively, and here we can offer help through our training service.
- Thorough assessment of your needs, giving due consideration to such issues as seating, mobility, access, motivation, educational needs, individual preference and cognitive ability;
- Trial of hardware and software;
- Technical skills training to use preferred equipment to maximum effect;
- Training to enable family and local professionals to implement and support equipment;
- Ongoing review of needs as your communication and learning develops.