How to Teach AAC with Modeling

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(Zangari, C. 2014, Dec 22nd. Retrieved from:

Once an assessment had been completed and a student has a means of communication in place (this could be a low-tech core board or a high-tech speech generating device) the next big question is, “How do we teach this student how to use the device?”

Learning a language takes time. People generally need to be immersed in a new language in order to learn it efficiently and effectively. Its no different for our AAC users. The best way that we can support our AAC users is to use the AAC system to talk yourself with the board/device, and do this OFTEN! This quote from Jane Korsten, SLP, sums up how important it is to “talk” AAC all the time.

The average 18-month-old has been exposed to 4,380 hours of oral language at a rate of 8 hours/day from birth. A child who has a communication system (AAC) and receives speech/language therapy 2 times/week for 20-30 minutes will reach the same amount of language exposure (in their AAC language) in 84 years.

Jane Korsten, SLP

So what kind of strategy can we use to talk all the time with a board/device? Basically, what does this look like? Which is a really good question!

This strategy is called modeling, or the more formal name for it is aided language input.

Introductory videos and articles

*Please note captioning available on all videos with YouTube captioning.
  1. For a short introduction to modeling, here is a great animated video by Chris Bugaj, SLP).

2. To see modeling in action, check out this video on aided language input by One Kid’s Place Children’s Treatment Centre in Ontario.

3. Here is a great article on modeling by Assistiveware (note: text only, but text to speech friendly).

Beyond the basics: Video resources (for teachers, child care workers and parents!)

*Please note captioning available on all videos with YouTube captioning.

Modeling through play. A webinar by Independent Living Centre WA (Australia)

Modeling through reading, for parents. A short video made by a parent. 

Using language support for direct instruction, using a low-tech board. A short video by Lindy McDaniel

Aided language input: Make it interactive and fun! A webinar by Caroline Musselwhite, SLP

If you’re interested in the research behind modeling, here’s a good collection of studies in this area.



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