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Tutorial for AAC via telepractice (Simacek et al., 2021)

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posted on 20.09.2021, 22:15 by Jessica Simacek, Sanikan Wattanawongwan, Joe Reichle, Jolene Hyppa-Martin, Lauren Pierson, Adele F. Dimian
Purpose: People who experience complex communication needs often benefit from interventions involving augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). However, barriers often prevent people from accessing high-quality AAC interventions. The COVID-19 pandemic likely further disrupted the onset or continuity of intervention. Furthermore, people with complex communication needs are typically at greater risk of experiencing health care disparities in general, particularly when people are culturally and linguistically diverse or reside in rural areas. Telepractice has supported the delivery of AAC interventions as an alternative model to replace or supplement in-person services during the pandemic. Considerations for how telepractice can continue to support intervention delivery to address barriers to access are discussed in this tutorial.
Method: We provide an overview of telepractice applications, guidance, and resources to support practitioners in developing and providing evidence-based AAC interventions via telepractice. We provide functional examples, sample questions, and practice resources (e.g., American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, National Telehealth Consortium). We describe intervention activities, discuss relevant literature, and address practice implications from our own research.
Results: We propose arrangements for initial planning for telepractice by the practitioner providing the intervention or consultation (for ease and clarity, this role is referred to as the “tele-provider”). We also discuss how to support recipients of these services, which likely include the person who communicates using AAC as well as a family member/caregiver or direct support person who is in the same physical location and who facilitates intervention implementation (for ease and clarity, this individual is referred to as the eHelper).
Conclusions: Telepractice has been necessary for many practitioners to provide AAC intervention continuity when in-person services have been unavailable during the pandemic. As this need resolves, telepractice is an important consideration for future innovation in AAC intervention delivery for greater access to supports and services.

Supplemental Material S1. Additional Augmentative and alternative communication resources.

Simacek, J., Wattanawongwan, S., Reichle, J., Hyppa-Martin, J., Pierson, L., & Dimian, A. F. (2021). Supporting aided augmentative and alternative communication interventions for individuals with complex communication needs via telepractice: A tutorial. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_PERSP-21-00050

Funding

This work is supported in part by a gift from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation to the TeleOutreach Center at the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, located at the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota’s NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award: UL1TR002494.

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