PraacticalAAC Blog Post by Jeanne Tuthill

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Article Author: Jeanne Tuthill for Carole Zangari
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Article Date: 4/2/15
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Jeanne Tuthill, an assistive technology specialist at the CCATT Center, has prepared a post for Carole Zangari’s PracticalAAC Blog, and we are pleased to share the blog with you:

If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night sweating over one of your AAC clients who doesn’t have a back-up communication tool, then this post is for you. Jeanne Tuthill is back with another prAACtical suggestion, this time on the importance of ensuring that people with AAC needs have communication options when their technology isn’t available or appropriate. In keeping with the generous spirit of the AAC field, Jeanne also shares her files for this project. Enjoy!

How I Do It: Making a Back-up for High Tech AAC

Each time I teach my graduate class I try to invite at least one AAC user in as a guest speaker to share their story with the students in the class. It never ceases to fill my students with awe and appreciation for the challenges that AAC users face on a daily basis. My students often list it as one of their favorite experiences during my class.

One of the questions that I invariably ask the AAC user (if one of my students doesn’t ask it first) is this: “What would happen if you did not have a back-up for your device?” I want the speaker to impress upon the students the vital importance of having some other way to communicate when their high-tech system is on the fritz or simply unavailable. One AAC user – a quick-witted and charming 16-year-old who has cerebral palsy – navigated through his system via eye gaze and responded quite bluntly, “I’d be screwed.” This student spends a lot of time customizing his device and it would be a loss of many, many hours of his time to recreate his customized user. So, he and his family make sure that his device is frequently backed up – just in case!

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