Speech specialists that are interested in furthering their certification within the field of communicative sciences can consider a certificate program in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) during their course of study. AAC is a fundamental element in providing functional communication to individuals that are non-verbal and require tools to communicate with their verbal peers.
AAC Certification Programs
While the assistance of devices, trained gestures, and well-known communication methods like American Sign Language can be beneficial specifically for the nonverbal population, there are some utilization of AAC that can be implemented for children or adults that are struggling with speech development.
AAC devices may be becoming more innovative as technology influences the development of tools in this area of expertise. Individuals that require that use of AAC devices can take part in training that can assist them with utilizing the device, as well as customize it to fit their own communication style.
In order to become a specialist in AAC devices, upcoming college students may choose to pursue a certification program that caters to AAC devices and training clients to use these devices during their day to day functioning. If you would like to learn more about this incredible program and what it can provide to you, read more in our team's guide below this section.
How can I earn a Certificate in AAC?
The most well-known path for AAC certification is through the general Speech Language Pathologist licensure program. The minimum degree that you can obtain for licensure is the master's, making it a great starting point for a wide range of career opportunities and certifications along the way.
Students of AAC often choose the AAC specialization or partnered certification program to accompany their general degree. This might include additional course work to your standard SLP program, which can introduce you to topics relevant to the utilization of AAC devices, new technologies, and guided-technologies for use.
If you are part of the SLP degree path, adding on the AAC certificate can open up more doors with clients without the ability to speak. Nonprofit organizations such as the AAC Institute can be helpful in gaining resources and CEU's for your SLP after you have completed your program, as well as help you keep up to date with any new changes to the field.
What can I learn in the certification program
The basis of the AAC certificate program is to introduce students to the technologies available for use with nonverbal individuals in the field. SLP learners can supplement learning about AAC devices when they are learning about how speech therapies can not always restore a person's speech to a previous level of functioning.
Students in this program can also learn more about developmental delays or physical injuries that could lead to completely or partial nonverbal behavior. Courses within the specialization program can outline the functioning of AAC devices as well as techniques for teaching clients how to properly utilize them.
There are different types of AAC devices that can be used by clients with varying levels of functioning. The use of these types of communication elements can help to reduce feelings of anxiety in nonverbal clients, as well as help to ensure that their needs are met during their day to day functioning.
Primary AAC Focuses
- Aided AAC Devices: In this day and age, aided AAC devices may be becoming more popular than ever before. Technology has allowed for more innovative tablets and interactive computers to assist in developing healthy communication habits in nonverbal individuals, and can also be easier to use and comprehend for verbal participants. Some examples of aided AAC devices include individualized tablets using pictures and audio for ease of use and cell phone applications that include pressing on indicating images for a computerized verbalization of the intended item.
- Unaided AAC Devices: Unaided AAC devices are some of the most common historically used methods of communicating for nonverbal individuals. American Sign Language is a communication method that has been utilized for the longest time in this community and is highly recognized even within the verbal community. Students within the AAC certificate program may have the option to pursue this path as a means for expanding their capabilities in teaching communication to nonverbal clients.
Learning about the different types of AAC devices can prepare you for working with completely nonverbal clients, but can also allow you the skills needed to utilize these types of devices during normal therapy sessions.
Devices that include speech and language cues can be increasingly effective for children and adults that may be learning to associate words to images. Some SLPs implement use of AAC devices during the early stages of their speech therapy with clients.
As you become more fluent with these devices, you can even find creative ways to implement your own form of augmentative communication within your therapies as a licensed professional.
How long does certification take?
Most students interested in pursuing more certifications to complement their degree programs might want to learn more about the anticipated time frames for these additional training programs. In general, most certification programs can take anywhere from 2 semesters to 1.5 years to complete depending on the school.
One example program available online seeks to train professionals to implement therapy through the use of AAC devices and can be completed in as little as 3 semesters. This type of training would be beneficial for students that are new to AAC devices and may require some hands-on training with these programs prior to working with clients in the field.
Benefits to Certification
AAC certification can lead you into careers that can change the quality of life for nonverbal people. AAC devices are becoming more and more advanced as technology continues to change it, which requires up to date professionals to implement the new programs and training in the field.
Knowledge of AAC devices and methods can also assist you in providing better overall speech and language services to the public, since nonverbal people can often be referred out to different types of services if standard speech therapies are not effective in increasing their ability to speak functionally.
If you are working towards your license as a speech language pathologists, additional certifications can often contribute to more career opportunities in the field. Nonverbal children and adults may require specialized staff to assist them in learning new language skills and communication methods, making it necessary to have trained professionals on staff to work with these clients when needed.
A heavy and well-formed portfolio of skills and accomplishments can always be beneficial for new professionals in the field preparing for a long-lasting career. Certification in AAC devices can allow you to be part of teams that work hard to ensure that every person has a voice.