Communication is absolutely fundamental to living a full life with agency and to connecting with those in your environment. In fact, we would argue that communication is the most basic human right of all! Without it, one can’t play an active role in one’s own life.
AAC involves the use of strategies to increase and improve communication for children who have limited speech. This is particularly important in countries like Peru, where approximately half of children with disabilities have significant difficulties with speech and few if any receive any speech therapy or communication support.
Our AAC program involves teaching children, their families, teachers and other relevant people in their lives, communication strategies that both support the development of speech (where possible) and that can replace it (when speech is not possible) allowing children to articulate their thoughts, desires and ideas to a much greater extent. Such strategies may include the use of sign language; using photos, pictures or written words to represent ideas, and teaching communication partners how to recognize the child’s communication attempts and how to better respond in order to encourage and clarify further communication.
Within our AAC program we work directly with families in our office, and we work with homes/orphanages and schools (training teachers and support workers how to include and teach AAC strategies within the home and/or the classroom). In addition to the grassroots work from our own office, we typically chose 1-3 schools and/or other organization each year that we work with closely throughout the year in order to help them implement AAC in their respective environments.