The Use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication with Students with Multiple Disabilities

Apr 28 2022

Key Takeaway: Students with multiple disabilities (SMDs) deserve the right to communicate effectively. One way to meet their needs is to implement Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), an assistive technology that enhances their inclusion into general education classrooms. Special educators believe that barriers to AAC are due to a lack of access to AAC, lack of professional development, and lack of support for families. Being aware of these barriers will allow us to develop the best solutions to support communication needs for SMDs. —Michael Ho

Rashed Aldabas (2021) investigated special education teachers’ perspectives regarding barriers and facilitators when using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) with students with multiple disabilities. The author acknowledges that an assistive technology like AAC has the potential to facilitate language acquisition and communication competence among SMDs. More importantly, the author emphasizes that the use of AAC not only enhances inclusion into general education classrooms and increases levels of spoken language but it also decreases problem behaviors among SMDs.

The author investigated the following four research questions: 

  1. How do special education teachers perceive barriers to using AAC with SMDs?
  2. Are there significant differences in teachers’ perspectives regarding barriers to using AAC with SMDs based on: (a) gender; (b) previous use of AAC; and (c) attendance of AAC training programmes?
  3. Are there significant differences in teachers’ perspectives regarding barriers to using AAC with SMDs based on: (a) previous teaching experience; (b) level of education; and (c) number of students taught?
  4. How do special education teachers perceive facilitators when using AAC with students with multiple disabilities?

Here are the major takeaways from the article:

Summarized Article:

Aldabas, R. (2021). Barriers and facilitators of using augmentative and alternative communication with students with multiple disabilities in inclusive education: Special education teachers’ perspectives. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 25(9), 1010-1026.

Summary by: Michael Ho—Michael supports the MARIO Framework because it empowers learners to take full control of their personalized learning journey, ensuring an impactful and meaningful experience.

Additional References:

  1. Raghavendra, P., C. Olsson, J. Sampson, R. Mcinerney, and T. Connell. 2012. “School Participation and Social Networks of Children with Complex Communication Needs, Physical Disabilities, and Typically Developing Peers.” Augmentative and Alternative Communication 28 (1): 33–43. doi:10.3109/07434618.2011.653604; 
  2. Rubin, K. H., W. M. Bukowski, and B. Laursen. 2009. Handbook of Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups. New York, NY: Guilford.
You May Also Like
The relationship between self-regulation, emotion and grit in students
Identifying the interrelationships between self-regulation, emotion, grit and student performance b...
Early childhood transitions to Special education
This study was conducted to highlight the experiences of caregivers in the transition from Early In...