Finding a Voice and Breaking the Silence: International AAC Awareness Month | SPD - Singapore

Finding a Voice and Breaking the Silence: International AAC Awareness Month

31 October 2014
In conjunction with the International AAC Awareness Month in October, the Specialised Assistive Technology Centre featured these stories of several individuals with communication challenges who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC in place of their own voice to communicate. AAC refers to communication methods which augment or replace verbal speech and/or writing. It empowers individuals with complex communication needs with the means to break that silence and to find their voice to express their needs, views, dreams and aspirations.
Daniel Tan
Daniel using his Pathfinder
Our first story is on Daniel. Daniel is a young man with many opinions and interests and a sense of humour as well. He has cerebral palsy and relies on the wheelchair to get around. Besides visual and hearing difficulties, Daniel also has limited hand movements. Hence, he controls his communication device using a switch which he operates with his left thumb. While he was a client of SPD’s Specialised Assistive Technology Centre, he taught us that when you have a desire to communicate, anything is possible! He communicates using a Pathfinder (in picture) which has voice output and he uses it for face-to-face communication. When a SIM card is inserted into the device, it has the ability to function as a phone which is what Daniel uses to keep in touch with us and his friends with the occasional “hello”.
Watch how Daniel uses his PathFinder here, and read more about Daniel and the AAC he uses here.
Rachel Tai
Rachel using a Communication Book
Rachel is an 11-year-old girl who has Global Developmental Delay. Rachel’s speech is difficult to understand and she can only say single words or short phrases. She uses a Communication Book with symbols to communicate. However, just because she has limited speech does not mean that she does not have anything to say. Here she is discussing how to make her strawberry milkshake with our assistive technology (AT) specialist Sarah Yong.
Watch Rachel communicating in these videos:
Video 1
Video 2
Yong Seng Koon
Seng Koon on his tablet
Seng Koon is a young man who wants to be heard. The 29-year-old wheelchair-user is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and has involuntary movements and speech difficulties. He is learning to use a tablet app to help him communicate more effectively with those around him. On top of his AAC training, Seng Koon also works with a volunteer on his written communication and literacy skills. He has numerous interests including the ball game ‘Boccia’ which is often a topic of conversation with him.
In this video, Seng Koon introduces himself and has a conversation with our AT specialist Pei Yun about his favourite sport.
Fong Ruo En
Ruo En facing her AAC with a blue switch
Ruo En is a five-year-old girl with a lot of personality. She has difficulties speaking and walking. Ruo En is currently learning to use multiple methods to express herself including a Communication Book and a tablet which is adapted with a switch to help her with selections.
This video shows Ruo En using the switch adapter to pick her favourite M&M colour, all smiley no less!
Lim Yun Kai
Yun Kai working on his tablet just before his presentation
Yun Kai is ready to make his mark in the workforce. The 24-year-old has Moebius Syndrome, a rare congenital neurologic disorder that causes paralysis in his face, lip and tongue resulting in a flat expression and speech difficulties. Yun Kai uses the ‘Speech Assistant’ app which he downloaded into his tablet and smartphone and he recently used it to give a speech at the IAC Certificate in Office Skills (ICOS) Graduation Ceremony held on 14 October 2014. It was his first attempt at public speaking and he did remarkably well. Well done, Yun Kai!
Here is the video of Yun Kai’s speech at the event.
Daniel Webster once said “If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest.”  To all the above individuals who starred in the AAC videos, thank you for your testimonies. You are all an inspiration. Keep talking and happy International AAC Awareness month!