First Things First

Complete a Speech-Language Assessment in these areas as appropriate

  • Developmental / Medical History
  • Oral / Motor
  • Speech Skills
    • Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation-2
    • Arizona Articulation Proficiency Scale: Revised
    • Frenchay Dysarthria Assessment
    • Apraxia Profile
  • Voice and Fluency
  • Language: Expressive & Receptive Skills
    • Boehm Test of Basic Concepts-3
    • PLS-4
    • Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4
    • FCP-R Functional Communication Profile-Revised
  • Pragmatic Skills
  • Screen Hearing
  • Cognition

Complete an Informal Communication Assessment

Needs Assessment

Complete an Ecological Inventory

  • If the individual has a seating system, is it appropriate and is it a good fit?
  • How does the individual communicate now? (gestures, signs, eye gaze, vocalizations, limited verbalizations, object symbols, picture symbols)
  • What are the individual's favorite activities, places, or food?
  • When does the individual try to interact the most?
  • Where does the individual communicate now?
  • What environmental  barriers exist? Does one communication device or system work better in one environment than another?
  • Does the individual fatigue quickly? Under what conditions, if any, can the fatigue be minimized?
  • Who does the individual interact with (e.g. friends, siblings, teachers, medical personnel, etc.)?
  • What communication partner barriers exist? Is one communication partner reluctant to learn new technology? Will one partner need more training than another?
  • How does the individual learn best? (e.g. with a peer, when few words are used by the communication partner, when the communication partner uses a slower rate of speech, with sabotage of the environment) Some individuals learn best when information is presented visually (e.g. individuals with autism spectrum disorder).

Other Questions:

  • What communication systems are being used now?
  • Does the individual have any vision problems?
  • Does the individual have any hearing problems?
  • Is the individual right or left handed?
  • What positioning equipment is being used and is it effective?
  • What methods of transportation are used?
  • What communication systems have been tried in the past?
  • What was good or not so good about them?

Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI) Assessing Students' Needs for Assistive Technology (ASNAT) Manual

  • Communication Assessment (PDF)
    (pages 23-27 of the Assessing Students' Needs for Assistive Technology manual from WATI)
  • WATI also provides a chapter on theory and best practices for AAC for communication.
  • The Full WATI Assessment manual includes: AT Laws for Schools, AT Consideration, AT Assessment Guides, Observation Guides, Referral Forms, AT Checklists and Resources

The SETT Framework

  • An organizational tool to help AT teams gather information to create Student-centered, Environmentally-useful, and Tasks-focused Tool systems that foster the educational success of students with disabilities.
  • More assessment tools from WATI and SETT

Assess Access to the Communication System:

  • If a switch is needed to access a communication device, what part of the body has the most reliable movement for switch activation? Check hands and arms first, then head, and finally feet and legs. Eyes can also be used to activate a switch.
  • Assessing Switch Access
  • Types of Selection and Switch Scanning
  • Writing Meaningful, Measurable AAC Goals and Objectives

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