Getting AAC on Your Own

Most people believe that you need a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to get an AAC device. You might think that formal testing by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is required to get any AAC device.  While the involvement of an experienced SLP is preferred… a formal evaluation and lengthy report are not always needed.

Sometimes, you might want to get an AAC device on your own. Maybe the process is too long. Maybe you can’t find a qualified SLP.  Maybe you are replacing an older AAC device.

Answer the next few questions to see if you can get an AAC device on your own.

Do you need a formal evaluation to get an AAC device?

Step 1 – Can you use an iPad?

Yes – go to step 2.

No – Schedule a complete AAC evaluation with a speech-language pathologist. You might need specialized adaptations to get the best AAC solution.

Unsure – In Pennsylvania, TechOWL offers free AAC demonstrations and loans of AAC devices to help you make an informed choice. We have speech-language pathologists on staff who can assist you through video or live demonstrations as well as phone calls. Schedule a video consultation

All states in the US have programs like TechOWL. Find your AT Act program at https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram.

Step 2 – Do you know which AAC app you want?

You will need an AAC app from the app store. The better ones cost between $150 – $300. There are many different ones from which to choose.

Yes – Go to step 3.

No or Unsure – You need to explore a tablet-based AAC device with several different AAC apps installed. In Pennsylvania, TechOWL offers free AAC demonstrations and loans of AAC devices to help you make an informed choice. TechOWL has speech-language pathologists on staff who can assist you through video or live demonstrations as well as phone calls. Schedule a video consultation

All states in the US have programs like TechOWL. Find your AT Act program at https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram.

Step 3 – Can you spend approximately $600 for a complete AAC device?

If so, you do not need a prescription from a doctor or a written justification from a speech-language pathologist. If you already have an iPad, you will only need an AAC app. The better ones cost between $150 – $300.

Yes – Go to step 4.

No – You will need a formal AAC evaluation and report as well as a physician’s prescription to submit to your insurance company.

Unsure – Consider raising the money through donations from friends and family. You might want to create a GoFundMe project. If you need more help exploring funding sources, contact TechOWL for some ideas.

Step 4 – Do you know how to get started once you have an iPad and an AAC app?

Yes – GREAT! – Get started!

No or Unsure – In Pennsylvania, TechOWL has a variety of resources to help you get started. Check out the resources here. In addition, you can contact us with questions or schedule a video consultation with a speech-language pathologist on staff. Schedule a video consultation

When do you need to have a comprehensive AAC evaluation and services by a speech-language pathologist?

  • If you need special equipment to use a tablet such as eye-gaze technology or switches, you will need a complete AAC evaluation.
  • If you need the AAC device to be funding through medical insurance, you will need a comprehensive AAC evaluation.
  • If you have continuing complex communication needs, seek the services of a speech-language pathologist.

(This post also appears on https://AACcommunity.net)

Kim Singleton

Kim is the Director of TechOWL @ the Institute on Disabilities. In her previous life, Kim was a speech-language pathologist specializing in children and adults with complex communication needs, creatively enhancing lives with emerging technology. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, she received her Master's Degree in Speech Pathology from Miami University. She loves to sing and play.

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