The student news site of Lake Stevens High School


The student news site of Lake Stevens High School


The student news site of Lake Stevens High School


That’s not any old iPad

Devices empower nonverbal students to communicate
Vibol Huy (he/him)
The buttons on this page all relate to the topic of “HELP”.

In any school, students have a variety of talents and needs. Some are talented in music, coding or memorizing facts. Others speak a number of languages. Several students on campus use an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device to help them communicate with people.

“AAC devices are for students who don’t have a voice and now can have a voice. That way you can talk to teachers, you can advocate for yourself,and you can have conversations with your friends,” Dar Flanagan, an LSHS speech language pathologist said.

Communicating basic needs and wants is important for all people.

“An AAC device makes it easier for nonverbal students to talk about what they like and ask for what they need like the bathroom or water or lunch,” Megan Britton said.

An AAC device looks like an iPad, but it contains many  buttons and is pretty complicated to use without proper instruction.

“When somebody needs to use an AAC device they need to learn how to press the buttons and where the buttons are.  It takes a lot of practice,” Britton said.

An AAC device is like a visual word bank. Students find the pictures and words they want to use. 

As a nonverbal student, I use an AAC device. I can find words by general categories like “food” and then choose more specific categories like “breakfast” then “pancakes”.  If I can’t find a word on my iPad, I can search for it, and I can also type full sentences and then select “speak”, and my iPad will read the sentence out loud. 

Students aren’t the only ones who need practice to use an AAC device.

“I work with teachers and the [paraeducators] to help them communicate better with their students,” Flanagan said. 

Teacher Tami Arnsbarger incorporates the use of AAC devices into her daily routines.

“We do morning readings with AAC devices and we work on calendar time with our AAC devices,” Arnsbarger said.

If you know a nonverbal student, ask them to show you their AAC device and see it in person.

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