This week's blog post aims to highlight the many different portability and positioning features available and what to consider when recommending these features for an AAC user.
To review, feature-matching is a systematic process in which an AAC user’s strengths and needs are matched to available tools and strategies (Shane & Costello, 1994).
It's important to remember that with feature-matching we are considering both current and future needs (Gosnell., 2011).
Portability/positioning feature consideration is a must during AAC assessment as these features can provide the user with access to their AAC systems at all times and across many different environments.
What are the features to consider for portability and positioning? According to Locast and Marx (2016) this can include the size/weight of a system, mounting options, durability of the system, and transportation features (e.g., carrying straps or handles).
Size: The size of the AAC system is a crucial feature to consider during the feature-matching process. For some users, such as those who are ambulatory, a light-weight device that is easy to transport is recommended. For users with fine and/or gross motor difficulties or visual deficits, a device with a bigger screen size may be needed. A larger screen can allow a user with motor deficits to have larger buttons to access and the larger screen can also accommodate those with visual deficits who may benefit from bigger buttons.
With our ProSlate Series, AAC users are able to access any AAC app on the market using iOS based software in whatever size they need.
Size considerations may seem like a small feature, however the ability for a user to independently access and transport their device can truly impact the "buy-in" and commitment to using the system!
Weight: It's important to consider the weight of a device. Whether the user is ambulatory and carries the device with them or if they rely on a mounting system, the weight of the device can impact how it is transported and utilized across environments.
The WinSlate with Enable Eyes speech-generating device incorporates cutting-edge eye tracking technology to provide access to all that Windows 10 has to offer. A highlight is that this device weighs in at only 3.4 pounds making it a lightweight device that's easy to transport while still offering eye tracking technology for easy access to the device. It's the lightest eye gaze device available!
Mounting: For users who utilize mounting systems, it's important that their mount(s) are able to accommodate a variety of device mounting situations. Whether it be in the classroom using a table mount or an eye gaze user who uses a mount for aligning an eye tracker optimum performance, mounting system considerations and features must be considered in the assessment process.
Both the WinSlate and the ProSlate can be equipped with a mounting plate for users who may need their device mounted for best access. Mounting options can include floor mounts, table mounts, and clamp-on mounts. These provide a user with the ability to access their device in many different settings.
Durability: The durability of an AAC system is important for users across the lifespan. Children need a device that can sustain them in the classroom, on the playground, and across environments. Adults need a device that can be transported from home, to work, to the grocery store, and other activities of daily living.
Both our ProSlate and WinSlate come with a rugged, durable case that is military grade, drop tested at 6 feet.
The WinSlate offers a snag-free, built-in USB port protector that safeguards the device and cable against abuse.
Other Features: Other considerations may include handles or carrying straps.
Neck carrying straps allow users to independently carry their device from one location to another.
Device handles that are durable, such as the FlexABLE Handle and Stand on our devices, allows a user's to transport their device from one environment to another securely. When a hand is slipped between the handle and the device, the user can hold the top handle to create a securely braced position for convenient on-the-go use.
Portability and positioning features may not be why immediately comes to mind when feature-matching in AAC assessment, however these considerations are important for communicative success for AAC users!
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Practice Portal). www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Augmentative-and-Alternative-Communication/
Beukelman, D. R., & Light, J. C. (2020). Augmentative & alternative communication: Supporting children and adults with complex communication needs (5th ed.). Brookes.
Gosnell, J., Costello, J., & Shane, H. (2011). Using a clinical approach to answer “what communication apps should we use?” SIG 12 Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 20(3), 87–96. https://doi.org/10.1044/aac20.3.87
Locast, M. & Marx, A. (2016). AAC Feature Matching Overview [Presented at The American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine AACPDM) Annual Meeting]. Accessed from: https://www.aacpdm.org/UserFiles/file/IC2-Marx-22.pdf (June 8th, 2022).
Shane, H., & Costello, J. (1994, November). Augmentative communication assessment and the feature matching process. Mini-seminar presented at the annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. New Orleans, LA.
Katie Threlkeld, M.S., CCC-SLP is a licensed, ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist and the Educational Program Developer at Forbes AAC. She has over eight years of experience in AT and AAC assessment and treatment with both the pediatric and adult populations. Katie has presented at the state and national level on AAC topics and she has University teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level.