Over the past year I have had the opportunity to share much
of my thoughts and practices with you. I’ve had the opportunity to share
stories of success as well as those that were tough learning experiences. Today,
I would like to share my vision of the future.
Some things on my list I know are in the works, but have not
yet reached my door as a practicing clinician. Some are things that will take
time to implement and we as therapists will need a little ingenuity to make
them happen, all of these things to me would improve communication and
independence with all populations that we work with.
Earlier Access to SGDs
Whether it is a non-verbal child or someone who has had a
stroke; access to communication will allow for improved language development
for the young and improve recovery for those with acquired communication
disorders. We should refer earlier for both.
More Voice Options
Currently there are a limited number of voice choices on
SGDs to choose from (although many more than only a few years ago). More voice
options give users the opportunity to sound unique and to have a voice that
more accurately reflects not only their sex but their age. You could donate
your voice to help this come true, check
More Access Options for the Physically Disabled
Eye gaze, head tracking and switches are all great options
for many users; however for some their physical disability may inhibit use that
matches their cognitive and communication ability. Other options are being developed,
and will be welcomed. We need to be able to better fine tune the way users
More Comprehensive Support for Educators
One of the most challenging aspects of working with young
users is helping the educators who work with users in the schools. The level of should support should match the
user, and the environment in which they
are communicating. This is a tall order,
but I’m sure some districts and SLPs are coming up with some great solutions to
these challenges. I would love for you to share.
Devices that Matches the Need of the User, Not the Insurance
Any user should be able to get the device that matches their
ability that suits their communication needs and allows for most independent
use of the device for timely communication of wants and needs. It is
frustrating when you have to limit a user’s choices based on insurance company
preferences instead of actual need.
More SLPs Involved in AAC
We do not all need to be experts to assist those that need
technology to communicate. We just need to reach out to those out there who
want to help. Many organizations and companies would love to assist, take the
time to check it out.
These are just some simple wishes that I have. I look
forward to seeing what the future holds for our profession and for those we
serve. Thank you for following along on my journey over the last year. I hope
that this was as educational and
enjoyable for you as it has been for me.
One of the joys of writing this blog over the past year has been the
ability to share my perspective on family and patient interaction. Of course, it
has been focused on my passion of giving the non-verbal a voice. So today I
would like to talk specifically to those families and users that I hope to get
more SLPs to serve.
Here are the things I wish every user and their family knew. These are
things that I try to share, but because any type of communication is not
perfect, I am not sure that I always succeed.
Having a voice is very powerful. It gives you the opportunity to tell
people things you may have never been able to express before. You will be able
to communicate with others that you may have never had the opportunity to
communicate with before. Communication is the key to independence.
It takes time and a serious commitment to use a device successfully. So
many have the potential to communicate, but it takes time. In order to be successful,
you have to commit to communication. That means insisting others allow you to
use your device, having the device on and accessible. Set up times to
communicate. The more you practice communication, the easier communication
becomes. The more you practice communication, the faster you can communicate.
A communication device will not replace your voice (if you have one).
Particularly adults who experience a loss of verbal communication sometimes
hesitate in seeking alternate forms of communication. Use of a device for
communication does not mean you will not regain some of your verbal
No matter what, don’t give up! Transitioning from non-verbal to verbal
is not easy. It takes time, practice and familiarity with your device. If you
are having difficulty, let your therapist know, seek a change in plan. There
are changes we can make to the device, there are changes we can make to how you
practice, and there are ways to make you successful.
A voice allows you to participate in the community. It doesn’t matter
whether that voice comes from a device or is natural speech. It gives you way
to participate in the world, to develop more relationships. Many people want to
see you succeed and communicate. Use your device with pride.
These are messages I try to communicate to my users and families every
session. What message would you like your families to get from their interactions
with you? What wish do you have for those you work with?
Each person that we provide therapy for has his or her
challenges. Sometimes the challenge is that his or her goals do not sync with
the goals we think are appropriate. Sometimes the family dynamic has too many
external stressors which either reduces attendance or participation of
stakeholders in therapy more than likely reducing the efficacy of treatment.
Sometimes outside forces (i.e. financial forces) become the determining factor
in what types of treatment or in the matter of AAC, types of devices are
available for a potential user.
How do we as therapists navigate these road blocks to try and
provide the most effective therapy for our patients? I think that this is a
question that we ask each other continuously and there are no clear cut
answers. If we continue to challenge ourselves we can continue to come up with
Here are some of the things that I may consider in AAC treatment.
When goals do not sync: Sometimes a family or a potential user may not be ready to delve
into alternative communication. This can be difficult to understand, especially
when wants and needs are not being met in a timely manner. Recently I had a
stroke patient who I had given a communication notebook to allow her to
communicate while we try to regain speech (or move forward with a communication
device). When I asked about use of the notebook, the stakeholder indicated that
“I don’t have time for that. Besides, I know
her so well I know what she wants or needs”. Typically when I have a family that is not
ready to move forward with alternative communication, I look to see what
other needs that patient may have. Then I focus only on those needs while I
slowly expose family to the power of communication.
Lack of participation in therapy: This is probably the most challenging aspect when dealing with
the non-verbal. When families have difficulty participating in therapy, then I
cannot in good conscience proceed with alternative communication
recommendations particularly related to use of a communication device. After
all, it would be difficult to get carry over if the family is unable to attend
to see how the device may be used to elicit communication. I find that sometimes
having a conversation about what attendance should look like may help. Trying
to figure out goals that mesh with the family dynamic may also help to get
participation, even just a few minutes a session can have a huge impact.
Financial forces: This can be most challenging as well. In my
practice, one of the biggest challenges is finding ways to get documentation
that some insurances require in order to obtain devices. In Florida, a letter
from the schools is required for many children to obtain a communication
device. Sometimes there is resistance because of fear of financial
responsibility. I often share the evaluation with those who may need to
complete this documentation. I try to get them to understand the process that
we have gone through to help the family make this determination. Sometimes
vendors will assist with educating schools about the required documentation.
When we have barriers, it is vital to recognize and confront
those barriers head on. Taking the time to try and determine how the barrier is
affecting the goal and then trying alternatives is the first step. What
barriers do you see in your treatments? How do you address them to ensure the
best possible outcomes?
Each time that I help a user get a device I am filled with
hope. It is an exhilarating day, thinking about the possibilities that are
there for communication.
Often though, there are hurdles that interfere with device
use, which means we have someone unable to communicate wants and needs. This
affects safety, ability to socialize and participation in the community.
Sometimes these hurdles are simple; it can be that the
device is not set up optimally. For example, the user may have alternative
access which slows down communication (compared to direct access). This can
cause some doubt to effectiveness of device use.
With those users with significant motor control issues,
device use is a process; it cannot happen overnight.
How do we break down device use to help keep the user
motivated? This is an area I learn more about every week in my practice. Each
user’s challenges are different and may require a completely different strategy
Let’s focus on one aspect that may have a real impact. How
often the user is exposed to using the device? With teenagers or adults this can be
particularly important. I get feedback from the user and stakeholders that
indicate that learning a device can be overwhelming. So if we do not set up a
plan for device use, we may have a user whose device winds up in the closet.
Here are two ways to set up times for device use:
Specific routines. For some device users, determining the
routine that has the biggest impact may be effective. For example, if mealtime
is an important time for socialization, then I instruct the user to communicate
during mealtimes and then expand to other routines. If learning how to initiate
is important, then maybe we set up specific play times to focus on initiation.
Specific amount of time. For those who fatigue easily, maybe
having a specific amount of time to practice device use. Ten minutes of use to
become familiar with layout and to practice the motoric aspect of device use
may help reduce frustration.
Breaking down device use into steps to be mastered can be
encouraging to the user and their communication partners. Thinking about the
way the device is implemented is crucial to communication success.
As an SLP who helps treat and train those with communication devices, I
get lots of questions about device use. Sometimes families tell me that the
therapist or teacher that works with the user “does not want to use the device
until they are trained.” In some ways this seems reasonable, technology is
really scary, but to me who deals with it on a daily basis, it seems like “just
therapy.” As with all perspectives, both sides are right.
What do you do when someone brings a communication device into
treatment? I have some suggestions, but would love to hear yours as well.
1. As much as possible, do your traditional assessment. Allow the user
to have the device accessible and complete your evaluation of his or her current
communication. This may include a standardized assessment or observations to
determine the user’s communication status. How effectively does the person
communicate? A note: if the device has not been set up for the user, then
complete assessment without the device.
2. Familiarize yourself with what is on his or her communication
device. Has the device been set up? If so, what types of communication do you
see? Do you see buttons that when you activate them speak a whole message? Do
you see individual words that the user can put together to create his or her
own messages? How is the device organized?
3. What types of communication is missing from the device? In other
words, what communication needs to be available? Is it specific vocabulary sets
for the classroom? Is it the ability to tell someone “I like” or “I don’t like”
to help avoid a meltdown? What about specific medical needs?
4. Reach out to the vendor or YouTube to see how to modify the device.
Probably the scariest part of first exposures to a communication device is
programming. If you have a vendor or another therapist that is working with the
user, reach out. If I am working with therapists who are uncomfortable with a
device, I offer to do the programming for them.
5. Use the device like you would a person’s voice. Does the user have
difficulty with answering questions? Work on questions like you would with any
other person you treat. Does the person have difficulty expressing frustration?
Again, work on it in the same way you would for any other person you treat.
Most times we can take all of the expertise we have and use it towards
device use. Very seldom do I treat a new user without using my traditional
language therapy techniques. There can be exceptions. In those cases, reach out
to the person who evaluated the user (or the vendor) to help you take next
steps. When we think of the communication first and the device secondary, we
can have big success.
It’s always exciting when someone gets a new communication
device. It’s even more exciting when they have been waiting (because the old
Yesterday, Corey brought me his brand new device to set up.
He looked at the student that is working with me and said, “I’ve named this one
‘Sky.’” Corey’s last communication device was named “Pluto.”
The very first experience I had with a user naming his device
was a young man who was talking about using his device to text his mom when he
was hanging out in the mall. He looked at me very seriously and asked, “What
happens when Fred dies?” He and his mom laughed when they saw the look on my
face; I had no clue that he was talking about his communication device.
Thinking about these wonderful users, made me wonder “What’s
in a name?”
Well, if you think about it, it is a great idea to name your
communication device. With these two examples, which happened without any prompting
from me or their family, it was a natural occurrence. What did naming a device
do for the user?
First, it gives the user an attachment to the device. This
can be a valuable way to get ‘”buy-in” for device use and independent
communication. This is something that belongs to only them and allows for
independence through communication.
Second, it makes it easier for family and other stake
holders to talk about (and encourage) device use. Giving a reminder like, “Why
don’t you use Pluto to tell me about your field trip, so I can understand,” is
much easier that talking about using your communication device.
Not all users are going to be able to name their device.
Some may need assistance with this as well. Since I learned about Fred and Pluto,
I have encouraged some families to help a new user to name the device. This has
been a great way to get everyone involved in the transition from ineffective
non-verbal communication, to more effective, independent functional
Do you have any device users that have named their devices?
What are some of the most unique names that you have heard? How did it impact device
use? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Yesterday I evaluated a wonderful woman who unfortunately had a stroke that affected her communication. As a speech-language pathologist who works in outpatient, I see those who do not require communication devices as well as those who are sent specifically for augmentative communication.
This evaluation was a typical speech and language evaluation, looking at how her stroke affected her communication and cognitive skills. As I started this assessment, it became obvious that her communication skills were significantly diminished. Currently she has only one or two consistent words that are not used functionally and approximately three gestures that she uses to communicate with her family. No matter what her potential is for recovery, alternative communication needs to be considered.
So, when do we start addressing AAC for those with acquired disorders? This is a difficult question to answer, because often it has more to do with the family and potential user that any specific criteria.
So what are some steps that we can take to make sure that communication is available as soon as possible while we help the newly nonverbal determine the need for a communication device?
- Make sure that a communication book is available. Simple communication books or boards are easy to make and some are readily available. There are many websites that offer these (some are free!). This can give some simple exposure and help reduce frustration of the family and the nonverbal. Yesterday when evaluating her, her caregiver expressed some relief at the idea of having something that would reduce the number of yes/no questions that he was asking throughout the day. Thank you Ashley Brannon for allowing me to share your communication notebook as an example.
- While completing traditional therapy for aphasic/apraxic patients, consider some exposure to a speech generating device. You may want to wait until a therapy routine is established, but it is vital to expose the nonverbal to the power of a communication device. Having a voice can be very beneficial. Reach out to your vendors or local technology lending closet for devices to trial.
- Make sure the potential user is aware that a device does not mean he or she will not regain some useable speech. I have witnessed on multiple occasions how the active use of a communication device for those who have aphasia or apraxia has assisted in some useable speech. As with all device users, the device is not meant to replace speech but to augment speech.
Like with all effective treatment options for those we work with, when we take the time to communicate options and keep the potential user and stakeholders actively involved in the therapy process, then we have success through buy-in.
My husband and I were watching an old episode of Star Trek the other day about the crew of the Enterprise being caught in a time loop. The way the crew figured this out was that they started experiencing déjà vu around certain events. This episode made me think a lot about some of the special needs families I help and how they experience déjà vu every day. Some of these are melt downs because of the environment; some are because a child is unable to express their wants and needs in a timely manner.
So how do many families deal with this kind of déjà vu? Often they also get caught in a time loop, one where the parent tries to anticipate the child's needs to avoid melt downs. After all, who knows a child better than a parent? It is amazing how in-tune a parent can be to illness or to a child being overwhelmed. Who can blame a parent for trying to help avoid melt downs or other difficulties? We never want to see the one's we love struggle.
This made me wonder about some of the strategies that I use in therapy when helping a non-verbal child communicate. I realized that there is something that we can do to help turn déjà vu into pre-jà vu. I'm hoping that this turn of phrase will help my families remember that we can recognize a need and instead of anticipating and completing the need for a child, we can teach communication.
When I really think about it, this is what I have done for a long time, but did not have a name for it. This is the way I try to help families teach a child how to communicate those needs that are difficult for a child to understand. Some very concrete examples of this are when we address medical needs and regulation needs.
Medical needs: Often children who are nonverbal can have very specific medical needs. Parents quickly recognize behaviors associated with these needs and typically go into action. What happens when the child is at school or with a new caregiver who does not recognize these signs? Often the need may not be met. So instead of going into remedy mode, it could be beneficial to model communication. This can help a child learn to communicate a medical need. This communication can improve the child's quality of life and reduce inappropriate behaviors that may be associated with a medical need.
Regulation needs: I work closely with my OT to help understand the regulation needs of the patients that I work with. She helps me and my patients recognize regulation needs. It can be very beneficial for a child to be able to tell you "I need to spin" or "I need pressure" to help with regulation. Again this allows others who may work with a child a quicker understanding of a child's sensory needs which improves behavior and the child's ability to cope with the environment.
Pre- jà vu, learning how to change the anticipation of needs to teaching a child to communicate those needs can allow a child to become more independent with their communication. This improves behavior, quality of life and allows for learning of other vital skills for success.
The great thing about the web and about advancing technology is that there are many resources available for you to utilize in relation to AAC. With improvements in technology and research, it is important to take the time to check out resources to make sure you are helping a device user make the best decision related to communication.
Some of my favorites still are vendor websites because they spotlight the different aspects of their devices and how their unique layouts may benefit current or potential users. They also have templates for evaluations and research articles that you could share with others to encourage consideration of AAC.
Besides vendor websites, there are some other great resources available from those in the assistive technology field.
Here are some great web resources:
AAC Institute: The AAC Institute is a non-profit organization that educates and advocates regarding AAC use. Some of the best aspects of their website are their Self Study Program (free CEUs!) and some of their products that assist with evidence based assessments for the AAC user. One resource of interest to me currently is their IEP resource, a great way to make sure that the IEP of an AAC user has goals related to AAC use.
The Center for AAC and Autism: The Center for AAC and Autism helps to educate others on LAMP (Language Acquisition through Motor Planning) as well as what key features any device should have particularly for those users who are on the spectrum. Another great feature of this website is the spotlight of success stories. It is fabulous to share these kinds of stories with families who are looking to AAC for the first time to help with communication development and communication independence.
PrAACtical AAC: This is a website full of outstanding resources. Two areas of interest for the SLP who is interested or involved in AAC are their Strategy of the Month and their AAC e-Tool Box. These are great for helping you or others in establishing good habits in AAC use.
You can also acess vendor websites and resources in the "Related Blogs" section in the navigation panel to the right.
These websites provide a spotlight on issues that may affect user access (for example, when Medicare changed from purchase to capped rentals), ways to keep evidence in the decision-making process, and strategies that can benefit the user and other stake holders who are part of the communication process. I hope you check them out.
What do you like about these resources? What resources would you recommend?
Every time I write an AAC evaluation, one area that I have to address is whether a low tech option is appropriate for the communication device user. I will now give you a disclaimer: I have a bias towards the high tech Speech Generating Devices (SGDs); however, low tech options should always be considered.
When should low tech items be considered? There are a few instances when low tech options may be beneficial as an option for someone who requires alternative communication. Here are some times when low tech can be beneficial:
- When motoric skills slow device use. Gayle Porter has developed a comprehensive communication system known as PODD (Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display) to help those with motoric issues develop complex communication as well as motoric skills to use more independent forms of communication like SGDs. This system is dependent on the communication partner, but is a great way to help develop and organize language and communication.
- As a backup to a SGD. Many of my device users know the frustration of a device dying during the day. Someone may have forgotten to charge it the night before, or the user has had a very heavy communication day. When this happens, having a simple button to seek attention ("HELP") or that asks for their device to be charged, may be beneficial.
- Teaching the abstraction of communication. For some children who are delayed in communication, there may be a lack of understanding for the need to communicate. This happens particularly with those diagnoses of which pragmatics are a component like those on the autism spectrum. PECS (Picture Exchange Communication) can be a very valuable tool for teaching those on the autism spectrum the purpose of communication. One of the most beneficial aspects of using pictures in this manner is the physical exchange of the message to help teach the function and process of communication.
With any communication system there are some important things to make sure happens:
- Keep communication current. No matter the system, if it is not kept current, then the likelihood of success diminishes.
- Encourage all partners to be involved. If a communication system is not used with those who are most familiar with the user, then the likelihood of carryover and success diminishes.
Each and every type of communication has pros and cons that need to be considered. Most importantly is that the user and their communication partners understand and use a system consistently.
What low tech systems have you had success with? How did it improve communication and independence?
"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" The holidays are a great time to expand communication, work on language development and vocabulary, as well as help some AAC users deal with the stress of altered schedules. This is particularly important when working with pediatric AAC users.
Expanding Communication: For many pediatric users, there is a continuous need to expand communication. As users get more comfortable with device use, and as they see results in participating in activities via communication, the need for other communication types becomes more apparent to the user as well as other communication stakeholders.
So how can we take this and expand communication for the holidays? Often having the user and other stakeholders evaluate their holiday routines and vocabulary particular to the user is the most effective way to build communication pages related to Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's. Then as SLPs who interact and work with these users, we can use traditional therapy activities to have the user practice using these pages before using in other communication environments.
Vocabulary and Language Development: Not only during the holidays, but also in relation to school themes, we can develop communication pages that can be used to help young users show competence with vocabulary and language development. For me as an outpatient therapist, this can also be a way to show the value of AAC for school professionals who may not have had a lot of exposure with communication devices.
So how can we utilize vocabulary and language development? We can create pages specifically related to a story and use vocabulary related to that story. We can also start exposing young users to word power type pages to work on creating sentences related to a theme.
Addressing Stress and Anxiety: Recently one of my young users went to New York to visit family. He became extremely agitated during the trip, and the noise and the crowds caused him to become overwhelmed. He almost walked out in front of a train. Once this situation happen, we decided to create some ‘self talk' pages.
His family and I started brain storming different situations that would be happening soon that could cause him to become agitated or overwhelmed. We created a page so he could talk about what was going to happen and what he needed to do prior to being placed in that situation. This would be similar to social scripts that we have discussed in the past.
These are just a few ways to take this unique time of year to push communication to the next level.
How do you help the communicators you work with get to the next level using themed communication?
Yesterday I was working with Bri and Caroline (who you may remember from some of my previous blogs). We were discussing options for creating alternate pages for Bri's communication device. Bri is starting college in January and we have to meet the challenge of helping Bri write for her English class. As we were discussing what those pages may look like for Bri, Caroline gave me some information that I had not thought about before: the use of YouTube!
I have used YouTube in the past to give examples of types of use, but I had not truly thought about what a valuable tool this could be. Let's think about some ways that we could use YouTube in our practice to help expand our services to our patients, especially with device users.
- Exposure to AAC: Often families may be referred for an AAC evaluation and not truly understand the impact a communication device may have for a new user. It is also useful to see the impact that it has on their caregivers. I will probably start sharing links like these below to show families who are unfamiliar with a communication device the power of using it to communicate.
- Device features: With many users and their families, a lot of my time is spent programming pages. When family members or other stakeholders become familiar with device features and comfortable with making changes to buttons, then I can devote more time to the problem solving and implementation of the device for the best possible outcome -- which is independent and functional communication. Using videos to help familiarize caregivers with device features may cut down on the time it takes to get them up to speed.
- To educate myself: Yesterday another SLP was discussing an uncomfortable situation of when a new patient showed up with a communication device that she was not familiar with using. How do you modify a message? What changes can I make to a button to get the best outcome for the user? Videos can help me learn quickly how to solve these problems for my patients.
- Click here to see some videos about PRC devices and features.
- To educate communication partners: If someone cannot attend a session to see how to communicate with a device user, this could be a very valuable way to give them great examples of communication exchanges.
It is great to have a tool that is readily available to expand and improve delivery of services to AAC users. What ways have you used YouTube to assist your practice?
This is a fabulous time of the year to express thanks. There is so much to be thankful for when it comes to giving the non-verbal or limited verbal the ability to communicate. Here are a few things that I am thankful for...
- Medicare is asking for input related to Speech Generating Devices. We have until December 6th to provide input to how communication devices should and are used to make sure those without a voice have a one in all possible ways. Please help by responding by December 6th (click here).
- Teachers and others who reach out to make sure a new user has access to communication. Thank you for reaching out to your SLPs, vendors and assistive technology specialists so that those with a device can communicate their needs in all environments.
- Advances in access. Thank you for eye gaze, head tracking, switch scanning and new developments that continue to occur in this field, giving everyone the opportunity to communicate as long as we continue to provide the support that these users need.
- Vendors who provide support to device users. Thank you to those vendors who are accessible and responsive to users. You help the therapist, the user and other stake holders improve success through your experience. You also are the key in the changes that have occurred with Medicare and commercial insurances to allow all that can benefit access to communication.
- Tablets and the communication apps that go with them. Thank you for the ability to give many more the ability to communicate, for reducing the stigma of device use. It is great that those without the proper insurance can still have the opportunity to benefit from a voice.
- Those who use communication devices. Thank you for your persistence, your desire and your continued growth in communication. It is inspirational to get to be part of this process. I only hope that other SLPs enjoy their job as much as I do.
- You the reader. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences with you. It is an honor that you have allowed me an avenue to hopefully educate and inspire.
I recently received a call from someone who works with one of my young communication device user. It makes my heart sing when someone calls to seek guidance for a new user. The more that we communicate with each other the more opportunities for communication and language expansion a new user can have.
She was confused as to why this particular child could benefit from a communication device. After all, he has a lot of sensory issues that interfere with his learning and his day to day routine. My thought is that this child more than most may be able to benefit from communication. Working closely with OTs I have found that one ultimate goal for children with sensory needs is for them to learn how to regulate their bodies by learning how to use sensory input to calm or alert themselves.
This was how we started using a device with Carson. Carson has significant sensory issues that had interfered with his ability to function. Often he would be frustrated and to make things worse, Carson cannot see. So we toyed with various options like using tactile cards for communication, but the tipping point of success was when we used auditory switch scanning.
Here is the take-home point for this blog today: Carson started communicating because we gave him options that were sensory based. Carson can ask for a break, he can ask to get on the floor, he can ask to spin. Each of this provides input that he desperately needs. Each of these communication opportunities allows Carson to calm himself and to move on to learn and participate in activities of daily living.
So there are days when Carson only asks for the above items, and that is ok. This is much better than some of the behaviors he has used in the past to get the same input. Those inappropriate behaviors were self injurious and caused a lot of anxiety for him and for those who care for him.
Now Carson has his own device with his own switch and he is blossoming. We have only just started to explore his abilities and this started with communication. In a time when we need to be thankful, I am thankful to Carson for teaching me another valuable lesson about the importance of communication.
It is with great pleasure that I can share with you that Medicare has rescinded a very significant change that they attempted to implement in relation to Speech Generating Devices. As I wrote in my blog Additional Medicare Cuts Makes Me Speechless, Medicare had implemented a policy that they would only approve devices that could be used for only ‘face to face' communication. This was particularly devastating for some users who rely on their devices to live independent lives through communication.
This is an exceptional win for not only those device users that need to be able to use a device for phone or alternative communications, but also device users that would have to learn new device layouts as their older devices failed.
This significant decision is thanks to each and every one of you that advocated for these users. Advocacy is an essential part of our responsibility to our profession and the people we serve. Without SLPs attending to policies that affect how we treat those we serve, we would be at the mercy of those who do not fully understand the depth and importance of services that our profession provides.
There are many ways that we can advocate for those we serve. Take a little time and consider doing one of the following.
- 1. Contact your representatives when ASHA notifies you of a policy shift that could affect our profession. I often receive e-mails regarding areas of concern for SLPs, and it takes just a few minutes to complete a form letter and send to your representatives via e-mail.
- 2. Blog or present to a local organization about an area of interest in our field. This blog has been a great way for me to reach out not only to fellow SLPs but also to patients and advocates. I have also presented about AAC to locale groups like the ALS society. Each of these can be a great way to expose others so that those we treat can get services that provide maximum benefit.
Here's to advocating and making our profession the best it can be in every way.
Click here to read the news release.
How do you advocate for our profession? What areas of policy concern you? Let others know so we can advocate together.