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AAC Assessment Feature Matching. Kim Ho, PhD CCC-SLP. Overview. Return Quiz Two, EBP assignment Review Well-built question Assessment lecture Feature Matching. Purpose of AAC Assessment. Communicatively competent Meet current communication needs Prepare for future communication needs.

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Aac assessment feature matching l.jpg

AAC AssessmentFeature Matching


Overview l.jpg

  • Return Quiz Two, EBP assignment

  • Review Well-built question

  • Assessment lecture

  • Feature Matching

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Purpose of AAC Assessment

  • Communicatively competent

  • Meet current communication needs

  • Prepare for future communication needs

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Steps in Assessment

Gathering and analysis of information for:

  • Assess current communication

  • Communication needs

  • AAC systems and equipment

  • Instruction (Trial therapy)

  • Outcome evaluation

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AAC Assessment Models

  • Candidacy Model

  • Communication Needs Model

  • Participation Model

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Principles of Participation Model

  • Principle 1: Assessment is on-going

  • Principle 2: Intervention to facilitate meaningful communication and participation

  • Principle 3: Identification of actual and potential opportunity barriers

  •  Principle 4: Everyone can communication. Everyone does communicate.

  • Principle 5: Technology alone does not make a competent communicator

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Phases of AAC Assessment

  • Phase I: Initial Assessment for Today

    • Assess current communication needs

    • Assess physical, cognitive, language, and sensory capabilities

    • Support immediate communication interaction

    • Match today’s needs and capabilities

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Phases of AAC Assessment

  • Phase II: Detailed Assessment for Tomorrow

    • Communication system for specialized environments, beyond the familiar ones

    • Requires careful assessment of the individual’s expected participation patterns

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Phases of AAC Assessment

  • Phase III: Follow-up Assessment

    • Maintaining AAC system that meets the changing capabilities and lifestyles

    • Periodically examine communication equipment

    • Assess needs and abilities of communication partners

    • Reassess the capabilities of the AAC user

    • Vital and frequent phase for a degenerative illness

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Activity/Standards Inventory

  • Assess participation patterns of peers

    • Independent

    • Independent with setup

    • Verbal assistance

    • Physical assistance

    • Unable to participate

  • Assess participation effectiveness of target individual

  • Identify participation barriers

  • Assess opportunity and access barriers

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Identify Participation Barriers

  • Opportunity barriers: imposed by others

  • Cannot be eliminated simply by providing an AAC system/intervention

  • Example

  • Access barriers: limitations in the current capabilities or support system

  • Example

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Opportunity Barriers

  • See Figure 6.3

  • Practice

  • Attitude

  • Knowledge

  • Skill

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Policy Barriers

  • Legislative or regulatory decisions

  • May be unwritten

  • Two main types

    • Segregation policies

    • Limited –Use policies

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Practice Barriers

  • Procedures have become common aren’t actual policies

  • Staff may actually think they are legislated policies

  • Example

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Attitude Barriers

  • The beliefs held by an individual rather than a policy

  • Example

  • Negative or restrictive attitudes

  • Most common example is reduced expectations

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Knowledge Barriers

  • Lack of information on the part of someone other than the AAC user

  • May seem like attitude barriers

  • Example

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Skill Barriers

  • Supporters have difficulty with the actual implementation AAC

  • Example

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Access Barriers

  • Capabilities, attitudes and resources of the potential AAC users

  • Lack of mobility, difficulty with fine motor control, cognitive limitations, sensory-perceptual impairments

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Access Barriers – Current Communication

  • Figure 6.4 to

  • Everyone does communicate

  • Assess operational and social aspects of communicative competence

  • Examples

  • Figure 6.5 types of messages

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Assess Potential to Use or Increase Natural Speech

  • Meaningful Use of Speech Scale (MUSS; Osberger, 1992)

  • Team interviews family members

  • Each item scored on a scale of 0-4

  • Hammen et al. (1991) and Dowden (1997) tool

  • Comprehensibility –listener can understand speech in natural context

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Assess Current Communication Cont’d

  • Assess Potential for Environmental Adaptations

  • Assess Potential to Utilize AAC Systems or Devices. Includes an:

    • Operational requirements profile

    • Constraints profile, an

    • Capability profile

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Constraints Profile – Family Preferences

  • The most important constraint

  • May include concerns about

  • System portability, durability, and appearance

  • Time and skills required to learn system

  • Quality and intelligibility of speech output

  • The “naturalness” of the communication exchange

  • Example

  • Family and potential AAC user may not share same concerns

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Constraints Profile

  • Preferences and attitudes of other communication partners

  • Research in this area

  • Abilities of Communication Partners

  • Must be able to understand the messages conveyed

  • Example

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  • Figure 6.7

  • Medical necessity

  • Appropriate terminology

  • Feature Match Grid

  • See sample reports

  • Prescription Letter

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Assessment of Specific Capabilities

  • See Chapter 7

  • Criteria-Based Assessment

  • Assess if potential user can use specific communication techniques or devices

  • Team gathers information and makes decisions

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Predictive Assessment or Feature Matching

  • First assess capabilities of user

  • Then predict devices that may work for individual

  • Set up a trial with device for a period of time

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Appendix A

Feature Matching Grid

Autsin’s Needs

Springboard Plus

Vanguard Plus

Pathfinder Plus


Audible Prompts

Dynamic & Static Display

Extensive Memory

Icon Prediction

Infared environmental control

LAM software



Semantic Compaction

Variable Font Sizes





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Limitations of Norm-Referenced Tests

  • Usually can’t be delivered in a standardized manner

  • Must adapt

  • Norms are NOT appropriate for severe disabilities

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Principles of Assessment

  • Principle 1: Identify strengths and abilities, not weaknesses and impairments

  • Principle 2: Address seating and positioning concerns before finalizing motor access

  • Principle 3: Discover motor capabilities, not to describe motor problems

  • Principle 4: Enhance the process of matching an AAC user to an appropriate AAC technique or device

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Components of Assessment

  • Assess Positioning and Seating

  • Assess Motor Capabilities

  • Assess Cognitive/Linguistic Capabilities

    • Cognitive Assessment

    • Symbol Assessment

    • Language Assessment

  • Literacy Assessment

  • Sensory/Perceptual Assessment

    • Vision and hearing