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“In Closing”: Reflections on the Power of Augmentative Communication

Reflections on the power of using AAC or augmentative communication strategies with learners who are blind or visually impaired with additional disabilities

A boy feels the outstretched hands of a girl in a wheelchairI had the absolute pleasure of being part of a Perkins eLearning workshop for the last 5 weeks, focusing on AAC strategies to use with students who are Visually Impaired and have additional disabilities.  I referred to this population of students as “Early Communicators.” As part of an assignment for the course, I asked participants in the workshop to list emotions a student may feel if he/she had access to a motivating social exchange. Keep in mind we are talking about students who don’t typically have the opportunity to participate in social interactions and conversations at the same rate or in the same manner as their sighted or blind “verbal” peers.  I was floored as I read through each assignment.  My colleagues generated a list (below) that made my eyes fill up with tears.  Even though this was one part of one homework assignment, their responses truly answered it all.
 

Below is my closing message to them, and I would like to share it with all of you as we close out the year.

Happy New Year!

Sometimes we think that AAC is just access to communication messages. Period. If you have ever witnessed a VI early communicator interact in a successful communication exchange at his/her highest level of competence, you know you have helped provide access to so much more. Please don’t ever forget the important work you are a part of in the fields of Visual Impairment and Communication.  

Thank you for all you do daily,

Megan

Someone is listening and responding

Every time you provide access to motivating and meaningful communication, your students have access to feeling:

Relaxed

Happy

Proud

Trusted

A Sense of Equity

Informed

Respected

Engaged

Treated as a real person and less as an object

Accepted

Excited

Appreciated

Relieved

Confident

Comfortable

Independent

Successful

Like they have a voice and are being listened to

Joy

Power

They can offer friendship

Control

Determined

“I can do it”

Relatable

Desired

That they can speak for themselves

Motivated

Like part of a group

Affirmation

Normalcy

Not bored

Like they can communicate openly

Empowered

Anticipation

Eager

Interested

Social Closeness (Musselwhite 2001)

Competent

Engaged

Enthusiastic

Inspired

Surprised

Amazed

Like their voice matters

Curious

Fulfillment

Challenged intellectually

Natural, not manufactured desire

Able – to choose whom to chat with

Content

Like someone is listening and responding

Autonomous

A sense of Belonging

Valued

Satisfied

FREE

“Wow.”

 

Pride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Augmentative Communication

 

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