Third year speech-language pathology and audiology students learn about AAC

Posted on June 01, 2015

“To be able to communicate via electronic devices opens a small window to the real world and normality.  After receiving my new voice, I moved my goals even higher….”.   (Dr Cival Mills, 2015)

The ability to speak, is often taken for granted, and it is only when you lose that ability, that you realize what you have lost.  Augmentative and alternative communication, also known as AAC, is a term that is used to describe various methods of communication that can help people who are unable to use verbal speech to communicate.  AAC includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. 

The third year students of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the University of Pretoria just completed their module on AAC.  On Wednesday, 27 May, they ended off the semester on a high note, with a practical session on various speech generating devices (SGD).  Prof Erna Alant, the founder of the Centre for AAC, who is currently employed by the Indiana University in Bloomington (USA), addressed the students and left them with a few thoughts on what communication is really about. The students also had the opportunity to meet and interact with various people who use AAC on a daily basis.  Carla van Niewenhuizen, a beautiful 24-year old lady from Roodepoort, inspired the students by telling them about her life and experiences as a person who lives with a disability and who uses AAC.  Christel van Dyk, a Grade 9 learner from New Hope School, used her low tech communication book to communicate with the students, and amused them with all her interesting stories. 

This practical session provided the students with an opportunity to put theory into practice, and it was an encouraging and inspiring morning for everyone present.  One of the students made the following statement on the importance of the practical session:  

As a result of this practical I learned that communication, although it should come so natural, comes at a massive cost when one is robbed of it. It was inspirational to hear and see various clients’ stories and their experiences with AAC. 

Thank you to the staff of the Centre for AAC (CAAC) for taking the time to help with the demonstration of the speech generation devices and for making this a valuable learning experience. 

Please follow the link below for more photos of the KMP Practical session:

http://www.up.ac.za/en/centre-for-augmentative-alternative-communication/gallery/view-2090653-kmp-practical-2015

 

- Author Enid Moolman
Published by Robyn White

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