AAC in the Time of COVID 19


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Learning Objectives

Thank you for your interest in learning about AAC in the time of COVID19! The objectives of this webinar are:

  1. Discuss how to identify and find assistive technology solutions for communication.
  2. Some specifics about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).
  3. Resources on how AAC can help people to stay connected during COVID19.
  4. Resources for individuals and service providers use regarding AAC in Pennsylvania.

Question and Answer:

  1. ASSESSMENTS: What is an AAC assessment? How do I get an assessment? Are AAC assessments required to get a device?
    • An augmentative and alternative communication assessment is going to look different for each individual depending on their needs. The overall goal of the assessment is to determine how the individual currently communicates, what works/what doesn’t work in terms of communication, and what strategies/systems they can benefit from using. Individuals and their teams can review this article on TechOWL to help them navigate how to get an assessment: https://techowlpa.org/thoughts/getting-aac-on-your-own/
    • A “formal” assessment completed by a speech-language pathologist is required for an insurance request to be submitted for device funding. It is also recommended you consult a speech-language pathologist for any questions regarding language development, matching the system to the language skills of the individual, motor-planning, device feature matching, etc. To learn more about this topic, attend one of our upcoming webinars for the ABCs of AAC: https://techowlpa.org/news/the-abcs-of-augmentative-and-alternative-communication-aac/. During this training, we go in-depth on the assessment process.
  2. ACCESSING DEVICES: How do I identify the best AAC device for my client? Where can I trial a device? Is there a set amount of time that I need to trial an AAC device? What programs are out there to help people get AAC devices?
    • The best way to select an AAC system, light or high tech, is usually to try it out. This can entail borrowing equipment either from a device vendor, or an AT Lending Library, such as TechOWLpa.org. There isn’t a set, recommended amount of time, but we usually lend out the device for a term of 3-4 weeks. This can be renewed for an additional 2-4 weeks if there isn’t a waiting list. The goal of the lending library is to let you “try before buy”. It does not provide long-term loans.
    • If the individual is in school, it is the school district that has the primary responsibility to provide the AAC system. Other sources of funding are listed below.
  3. FUNDING: What are the ways to fund AAC?
    • Just like assessments, funding AAC is also going to look different for each individual depending on their services and what is being recommended. Some individuals may be able to pay for their AAC privately out of pocket. Others may need to use their insurance, Medicaid/Medicare, or waiver. For insurance and Medicaid/Medicare, a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist must complete the evaluation. Do keep in mind that some waivers also have a lifetime cap for assistive technology. It is important that teams discuss funding from the start of the process. We will also be talking more in-depth about AAC funding in our webinar series the ABCs of AAC: https://techowlpa.org/news/the-abcs-of-augmentative-and-alternative-communication-aac/.
  4. ASSESSING AAC: How can we access for AAC needs? Is there a basic template that you all have?
    • If you are unsure about how to assess or measure your consumer’s communication skills, one great tool is the Communication Matrix. It is web-based and can be filled out by any member of the team. It can be used to measure change over time, in response to AAC intervention. https://communicationmatrix.org/
    • The following website has some basic templates that can be a starting point for SLPs looking to write an insurance request: https://www.aacfunding.com/templates-samples (please note that this website is through PRC and Saltillo, other vendors may also have report templates available. And check back on AACCommunity.net soon for upcoming information on report writing!) Another resource for Letter of Medical Necessity templates: http://www.dati.org/funding/lmnsampleALL.htm


This webinar is audio described and close-captioned to provide an inclusive educational experience for all participants. If you need additional accommodations to access the information in this webinar, please email us at TechOWLpa@temple.edu and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

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Tom DiAgostino

Tom is the Outreach and Training Coordinator at TechOWL. Before starting at TechOWL in 2019, Tom worked as an English Teacher through the Fulbright Commission in Uruguay as well as a Social Worker and Spanish interpreter in the foster care system in North Philadelphia. As a person with dyslexia, Tom is passionate about readability and website accessibility. Along with managing TechOWL’s social media platforms, Tom also co-leads the Fabrication program CreATe together and assists with managing the TechOWL website.

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