Just as there are a variety of disabilities, there are a variety of internal reactions to, private responses to, and overt interactions with individuals with disabilities. One of the major obstacles to inclusion – both in the schools and in the community – is a lack of awareness regarding individuals who are non-speaking and the area of AAC. This lack of information often leads to uncertainty about how to interact with individuals with complex communication needs or even an unwillingness to try. Consequently, barriers are built up and quality of life is affected.
The ultimate goal of communication awareness training is to provide individuals with experiences that will help them become more willing and confident communication partners with students who use AAC. This is done by providing a presentation that incorporates information, demonstration, interaction and investigation. It can be done in small or large group settings and within a variety of time frames.
Communication awareness programs differ from disability awareness in that they focus specifically on communication issues. Such training takes a deeper look at:
- the purpose of communication, and highlights natural communication strategies
- the impact of severe communication disorders
- augmented or alternate means of communication
- strategies for interacting with individuals using AAC
- specific information about the communication skills and strategies of a particular student
It’s never too late to provide such experiences to classrooms or staff!