ABC’s “Speechless” and Five Facts About AAC Devices You Might Not Know

Sep 13, 2016 | by Lingraphica

This fall, ABC, will premiere a new television show called "Speechless." The television show will feature Maya, played by Minnie Driver, on a mission to provide for her family and eldest son, JJ, with cerebral palsy. Together, Maya and JJ fight injustices both real and imagined.


We are so excited that ABC is featuring this character and his family! We know "Speechless" will shed light on the thousands of individuals and families who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices to communicate. While the world learns more about JJ and his cerebral palsy, we want the world to also learn about AAC device. Below are five facts about AAC devices you might not know:

1. AAC Device Users Come in All Ages: JJ is one example of AAC device users. In fact, thousands of individuals of all ages use an AAC device to speak to their loved ones. Some of these individuals suffer from neurological conditions like ALS or Parkinson's Disease, while others have acquired a language disorder as a result of a tramuatic brain injury or aphasia. It's important to recognize that AAC device users might need more time to communicate with you. Many users report frustration or impatience with those who they are communicating with the public. Keep this in mind the next time you talk with an AAC device user!

2. AAC Device Accessibility: In an ideal world, an individual with a communication impairment would have access to an AAC device all the time. While many private insurances cover a device, it's important to look at all of your options when considering one. First, check your private insurance options and see what type of coverage you have. Medicaid, Medicare, Early Intervention, and Medicaid Waiver Programs all may potentially reimburse for a device. If you're looking for an AAC device for your child, check with their school, who should also provide an assistive technology professional. This staff member is knowledgeable in all-things AAC and can provide an assistive technology (AT) evaluation for your child. He or she can also tell you about low-tech and high-tech AAC devices on the market. For reference, JJ's device in "Speechless" is considered a low-tech device. This blog also provides a good overview for how to get an AT Evaluation for your child. If you're looking for an AAC device for an older adult, check with your loved one's speech-language pathologist or neurologist.

3. AAC Isn't the End of Natural Communication: A lot of caregivers are concerned that if they get an AAC device for their loved one, he or she will stop trying to communicate naturally. Research shows this isn't true. In fact, Lingraphica used our AAC devices with severely impaired individuals dignosed with aphasia. Instead of regressing and getting worse, these users actually improved their natural language abilities.

4. AAC Doesn't Mean a Lack of Intelligence: This is a very important point. Just because someone is using an AAC device doesn't mean they are unintelligent or don't understand you. Many times people rely on AAC to help with speech generation. In the case of adults with aphasia, they know what they want to say to you but have difficulty getting the words out. This is where an AAC device comes into help. 

5. AAC Devices Go By Many Names: AAC Devices go by many different names including: speech-generating device, communication device, augcomm device, low-tech device, high-tech device, augmentative and alternative communication device, E2510, speech device, etc! No matter what you call it, it's still empowering people to communicate!

Now that you're educated and familiar with AAC devices, you can happily and eagerly wait to meet a user like JJ from "Speechless." Don't forgot to join Lingraphica in an effort to continue raising awareness about language disorders and AAC devices! If you'd like to learn more about Lingraphica's AAC devices, please click the button below. 

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