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October is AAC Awareness Month




October is AAC awareness month. As AAC activists and supporters of the NZ Speech-Language Therapists’ Associations Giving Voice Aotearoa campaign, which aims to make New Zealand communication accessible, TalkLink will be doubling our efforts to raise awareness this month. We are going to start by busting some of the AAC myths. We invite you to help, by sharing your stories too.

The first two myths we are busting are:



Communication (not speech) must be priority number one. We often see people who are able to speak or sign one, two or even three word phrases, but give them an AAC device and they can communicate in complex sentences. We don’t want to limit communication we want to expand and enhance communication.

Likewise learning to use a speech generating device does not happen overnight, just like learning to talk as an infant, or learning a second language does not happen overnight. We need to be immersed in the language experience to be competent communicators.

Take Grace. Grace is a High School student in Invercargill. While Grace has used a speech generating device in the past, sign language was the main focus during Primary School. As Grace’s circle of friends has increased, the team revisited her use of a communication device, and she trialled an iPad with the LAMP Words for Life app. At the end of the trial her mum Jo commented:

Using LAMP will be huge because it will add ‘flavour’ to Grace’s communication.  It will allow her to add the detail that just isn’t possible with her use of sign.  It will also allow her to communicate with a wider range of people. Jo sent TalkLink a video clip  of Grace 6 months after receiving her equipment.


Jo said:
“Hi Ann, Grace had composed the whole sentence so I will try to start recording a bit earlier next time. She gets so much satisfaction when it reads it out correctly. The Lamp programme has opened up so many more possibilities for her to have a voice. Cheers, Jo”

What makes Grace and her team so special is that they have kept focused on her communication and have added AAC tools and strategies along the way.




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Ann Smaill

Ann Smaill

General Manager, Speech Language Therapist at The Talklink Trust
I am the General Manager of the TalkLink Trust, and also a speech-language therapist. I have been working with people who have complex communication needs for many years.
Ann Smaill

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