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Feature-Matching in AAC Assessment: Portability/Positioning Features

Updated: Aug 15


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.

  • The ProSlate 13D offers a 13-inch screen and weighs only 3.6 pounds while the ProSlate 10D has a 10-inch screen with a weight of 2.1 pounds. Finally, the ProSlate 8D offers an 8-inch screen size and is easy to transport the system as it weighs in at 1.6 pounds.

  • 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!


References:

  • 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 Doctoral Candidate at the University of Missouri and the Educational Program Developer at Forbes AAC. She has over 8 years of experience in AT and AAC assessment and treatment across the lifespan. Her goal is to provide all AAC users and those around them with evidence-based information for best practice in AAC.

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