AAC Professionals Dare to Lead

AAC Awareness Dare to Lead

A world-famous user of AAC!
Image courtesy of NASA

AAC Awareness Dare to Lead

“Dare to Lead” is the same in whatever language it is spoken, according to International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC).

Assistive technology makes everyday tasks accessible to persons with a disability. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) enables people who cannot express their thoughts or needs verbally out loud to do so with the assistance of technology. AAC devices go back to 1960, when Reg Maling built a prototype of an electronic communication aid in the form of a sip-and-puff typewriter. The device displayed a set of symbols on an illuminated display. From the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC): October is International AAC Awareness Month; the theme for 2018 is Dare to Lead.


According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), persons who use AAC devices fall into two broad categories: congenital and acquired disabilities. Paring an individual with an AAC device requires close attention to that person’s disability and needs (and these can change over time). In some cases, the user may need an AAC system, “an integrated group of components that enhance communication.” AAC comes in two forms, unaided and aided. Unaided AAC systems do not require an external tool. Aided AAC, on the other hand, includes a device, electronic or non-electronic. Low-tech solutions include picture symbols, word cards, and communication boards. High-tech solutions range from single-message devices to complex communication software and hardware. People older and younger alike can use AAC!


AAC Awareness Dare to Lead

Tess C. relishes the new words and phrases she has learned on her new communication device, while Karren Gliniecki, Augmentative Communication
Specialist and speech-language pathologist in the Assistive Technology Services department.

Dare to Lead encompasses best practices that include the following:

  • Presume the person’s competence. There is no need to prompt every message.
  • Assume the usual communication etiquette, including allowing the person time to speak.
  • Allow a student to time explore his device.
  • Respect the AAC device as the person’s property, taking it away because she does not appear to be cooperating is akin to taking away her voice.
  • Allow the user’s access to his words at all times. Use color coding, as needed.
  • Ensure vocabulary includes core words, including verbs and adjectives, not just nouns.
  • Ask open-ended question, allowing her time to respond.

And we can help!



Young girl uses eye-gaze technology for success in school and at home.

Tess L. uses eye-gaze AAC technology to communicate with her parents and in school.

AAC Awareness Dare to Lead

Wayne K., blind, runs his own small business with pride. Norman Resnick, one of our AAC professionals provided him with the tools.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the services and supports available through Advancing Opportunities, please let us know and we'll get to you as soon as we are able.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search

Call Now Button direct support professional HiawathaMicro Light switch access
Donate Now!