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AAC in Education: Online Learning Modules Now Available

by Gillian McNeill

on Thu Sep 06, 2018

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Do you work with learners using Augmentative and Alternative Communication in education and wish to develop your knowledge, skills and best practice techniques? If so, CALL Scotland have launched their new and unique online learning modules - Supporting Learners with Complex Communication Support Needs, in School. These modules, commissioned by NHS Education Scotland, are free to access and view online, and complement our first series of modules - an Introduction to AAC. 

Who might use the modules?

Our first series - an Introduction to AAC, is accessible to people without any previous specialised knowledge of communication disability or of communication aids, whereas the new second and larger series - AAC in Education, is written for staff and students more specifically working in education and addresses many aspects of how to introduce and support the use of AAC in educational settings.

Where can you find the modules?

The modules are hosted on our newly updated AAC Scotland website, where you will also find other information and resources for AAC including videos, links and downloads.

What's in the modules?

An overview

The content focuses on positive outcomes for people who use AAC, are evidence based, highlighting best practice and provide a large number of resources, presented in a multi-media format, with 7 modules in total, each starting with a description of the learning outcomes and with a test your knowledge quizzes and certificate to print, on completion. Although it is recommended that everyone starts by viewing the first module – Setting the Scene, the subsequent modules can be viewed individually or in sequence.


1. Setting the Scene

This Introduces learners who have a communication support need and why language and communication are central to learning and life skills in general, before prompting you to reflect on the value you place on AAC as a tool for learners, your role to support its use and how ready your school ready is for AAC.

2. Communication Friendly Schools

This addresses the benefits of making schools as accessible and inclusive for all pupils, including those with different levels of communication support needs, with six suggested steps to creating a Communication Friendly School and examples of school symbol inclusion projects.

3. Augmentative Communication in Practice

This addresses practical strategies to support AAC and integrate AAC into daily school life, covering six fundamentals issues from having access to an AAC system at all times, equipment management, expectations and opportunities for communication, to core word and appropriate vocab teaching.

4 Educational Frameworks

This describes how communication is at the heart of Scottish Curriculum (the same principles will apply in other countries, although exact details may differ), with most of the module addressing assessment, planning, monitoring and recording techniques and tools, including setting appropriate targets for AAC learners

5 Supporting Teaching and Learning

This extensive module addresses adapting the curriculum and teaching approaches, to meet the learning needs, interest and abilities of AAC learners, with a focus on four important aspects. The first covers rationale for differentiating the curriculum for AAC learners, the second covers resources for those teaching learners with Profound/Severe and Complex Additional Support Needs. Then, teaching language and literacy, with inclusive literacy approaches such shared reading and teaching phonics, and lastly ICT for education, with suggested educational software and case stories.

6 Working together to support AAC

This addresses the need for team working and the many roles involved in supporting a learner with complex communication needs where AAC is involved, especially if this is a high-tech device. It includes working in partnership with parents and families, and strategies for involving and consulting learners.

7 Communication for Life

This module focuses on supporting transitions from school to adult life for young people who use AAC, with a transition project example and resources for preparing for transitions such as Personal Communication Passports.

Who wrote the modules?

The AAC in Education modules were written by Sally Millar, past Joint Co-ordinator and Specialist Speech and Language Therapist at CALL Scotland and are based on the evidence and experience she collected from over 30 years working in the field. We are grateful for contributions from KEYCOMM, the Lothian Communication Technology Service and FAACT, Fife’s AAC Team.

Tags: aac, professional learning

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