AAC Awareness Month 2023: Share Your Memorable Moments with AAC
In the world of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), October holds a special place as AAC Awareness Month.
This month-long event is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of communication for individuals who have lost their ability to speak, whether due to stroke, brain injury, ALS, or other conditions.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the definition of augmentative and alternative communication, explore the historical background of AAC Awareness Month, reveal the 2023 theme, and share some inspiring success stories.
Please join us in celebrating AAC Awareness Month!
What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)?
Augmentative and alternative communication is a set of tools and strategies that help individuals who have difficulty speaking or writing to express themselves.
AAC encompasses a wide range of techniques, from sign language to high-tech AAC devices and apps (such as our very own APP2Speak app). AAC empowers individuals to communicate effectively and more fully engage with the world around them.
AAC Awareness Month: Historical Background
AAC Awareness Month was established by the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication’s (ISAAC) LEAD Project Committee in October 2007. It began as a grassroots effort by advocates and professionals dedicated to improving the lives of AAC users.
Over the years, it has gained momentum and recognition, spreading awareness about the needs and abilities of individuals who rely on AAC for communication. Today, AAC Awareness Month stands as a beacon of hope and inclusion, promoting the right to communicate for all.
Thousands of people around the world are celebrating AAC Awareness Month this year. Some of the events local organizers have created for the occasion include morning or afternoon teas, open houses, and storytelling events.
The 2023 Theme: “Say What? Sharing Your Most Memorable Moments with AAC”
The theme for AAC Awareness Month 2023 is “Say What? Sharing Your Most Memorable Moments with AAC.” The goal is to encourage individuals to reflect on their AAC journey and the moments that have defined it.
This theme celebrates the power of AAC in capturing and expressing the most significant moments in life and emphasizes the importance of sharing these stories with others.
Success Stories: Inspiring Examples of AAC Success
Now that you know all about AAC Awareness Month and this year’s emphasis on sharing success stories, let’s take a look at a few inspiring stories that show how people who cannot speak have achieved success through the use of AAC.
- Delaina Parish: Delaina was diagnosed at age two with cerebral palsy, but she didn’t let the condition slow her down. While studying marketing in college, she started Fearless Independence, a lifestyle brand and consultancy focused on bringing diverse perspectives to business, education, and fashion.
Like many with cerebral palsy, Delaina has speech and motor difficulties that can make communication challenging. Just before she started college, her Speech Language Pathologist encouraged her to try AAC. She started using the I-Series, an eye gaze-enabled speech generating device, after testing it at a conference.
Delaina prefers using her natural voice around friends and family, but she relies on her I-Series in more formal settings, along with Communicator 5 software that allows her to type with her eyes and convert text to speech. This AAC solution helped Delaina question professors, participate in group projects, and organize and type papers in college.
In 2021, she used her I-Series at a TEDx event, where she spoke about closing the employment gap for disabled people. That same year, Delaina caught the attention of Forbes Magazine. Her device helped her prepare for the interview so she could represent her thoughts precisely.
- Aiden Cluney: Aiden is a young student who was born premature and spent the first few months of his life in the NICU. When he was finally able to go home, his parents soon realized that both his hearing and sight were significantly impaired. Some months later, Aiden was diagnosed with autism. Needless to say, when Aiden began school, he was at a serious disadvantage compared to most kids.
In the face of all of these challenges, a support team was assembled, including Aiden’s parents, his classroom teacher, a Speech Language Pathologist, and an autism specialist. Together, this team researched and tried out several AAC devices to find just the right support for Aiden. They settled on a communication system that Aiden now uses at both home and school. This system has allowed Aiden to gain greater independence and success in school. Check out the link above to see a video of his story.
- Bob: I’ve shared this story before on this blog, but I’d like to share it again. Bob, who had throat cancer and was facing a laryngectomy, was one of the minority of AAC users who knew in advance when he would lose his ability to speak. With some forethought, research, and the help of his friend Wayne, he was prepared. By purchasing and learning to use APP2Speak before his surgery, he was able to communicate with his doctor and nurses immediately after his surgery. He continues to use the app to communicate with those around him every day.
Hit the link above and scroll down to the italicized section of the blog post to read the full story.
Your Turn! Share Your Own AAC Success Story
Now that you know all about AAC Awareness Month and you’ve read about how AAC can change the lives of so many people, it’s your turn to share your story.
I believe that every AAC user has a powerful story to share. Whether it’s a written account or a short video, I’d love to hear how you became aware of AAC, how you use it in your day-to-day life, and about the difference it has made for you.
If you submit your story to us here at APP2Speak, we’ll share it with our audience (with your permission, of course) on the website.
Just think, by sharing your story, you could:
- Raise Awareness—Your story could bring greater awareness of AAC and its ability to change lives to people who cannot talk and their caregivers.
- Inspire Others—Your story just might be the push someone out there needs to take the plunge and explore AAC options they hadn’t previously considered.
- Highlight Helpful Resources—Your story could bring available resources to the attention of people who were previously unaware of them.
So please, take a little time to share your story with us—and through us, with our entire APP2Speak audience. You can send your written story to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, if you prefer to record a short video (no more than 3 minutes, please), we would love that, as well.
AAC Awareness Month: A Celebration of Communication and Connection
AAC Awareness Month is a time to celebrate the incredible strides made in the world of augmentative and alternative communication. It’s a reminder that communication is a fundamental right, and that AAC empowers individuals to exercise that right to the fullest.
As we embrace the 2023 theme, “Say What? Sharing Your Most Memorable Moments with AAC,” let’s come together to inspire, educate, and uplift one another. Join us in making AAC Awareness Month 2023 a memorable celebration of communication and connection!