POWER:AAC is a training series developed by PaTTAN with Gail Van Tatenhove, CCC-SLP. Gail, a speech/language pathologist with over thirty years of experience in the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), has collaborated with AAC practitioners in Pennsylvania intermediate units over the course of several years on this project. The result is this series of brief modules, which can be used for professional development by individuals or groups who are supporting students with complex communication needs and who need or use AAC.
The POWER:AAC modules are intended to build the capacity of school personnel to improve communication skills and provide flexible, generative vocabulary for students who need or use AAC.

What does “POWER:AAC” mean?

The title of this series of training modules - ‘POWER:AAC’ - refers to the five key principles of this project. POWER:AAC classrooms have educational teams who are learning to:

  • Practice powerful communication PARTNER skills

  • Create powerful communication OPPORTUNITIES

  • Implement power WORDS in social and instructional contexts

  • Continually utilize EVIDENCE in decision making about AAC systems and supports

  • Create, implement, and share powerful RESOURCES.

The Modules

Each of the 12 POWER:AAC modules contains materials in a variety of formats, including a video presentation, a presentation transcript, and presentation slides in both PowerPoint and PDF formats. Some of the modules also include supplemental presentation materials. Each module includes a pre- and post-test assessment and application assignments for classrooms, for us in local professional development contexts.

You can access the POWER:AAC modules and materials by clicking on these links:

Module 1: Welcome to POWER:AAC
Module 1 provides an overview of the series and materials. POWER:AAC is designed to build the capacity of those who serve students with complex communication needs who require the use of of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. The materials are appropriate for self-directed or professional learning community use.

Module 2: Assess Classroom Practices
Module 2 of the POWER:AAC series addresses common classroom practices with students who may have very low or no speech, who may need or already use AAC systems. A variety of effective classroom practices are introduced, including the use of flexible, generative, potentially powerful words known which are referred to as "core" vocabulary or "core words". As a means of identifying your current educational practices and adopting POWER:AAC classroom practices, you will be asked to complete a self-assessment profile.

Module 3: Develop Personal AAC Systems
Module 3 of the POWER:AAC series reviews the various multi-modal AAC options to consider for students who need/use AAC, from no-tech, through low-tech, to high tech. A guide for making one such option- a simple manual communication board – is introduced.

Module 4: Select Core Vocabulary Words
Module 4 of the POWER:AAC series covers the important topic of selecting words for a student’s AAC system. It focuses on the importance of core vocabulary words and planning for providing sufficient vocabulary in student AAC systems.

Module 5: Represent Vocabulary Words
Module 5 addresses issues regarding the representation of vocabulary words with pictures. It provides simple strategies for teaching pictures for core vocabulary words, and managing pictures on other visual support materials in classrooms.

Module 6: Provide Support and Scaffolds
Module 6 covers the visual supports and educational scaffolds that are essential in a POWERAAC classroom environment, including tools to help students communicate with their AAC systems.

Module 7: Practice Partner Skills
Module 7 covers the important topic of communication partner skills. AAC literature reports that adult communication partners facilitate communication growth for their students when they learn how to model language using the form of AAC the student is learning to use, create communication opportunities, and respond to students’ use of their systems with descriptive feedback.

Module 8: Teach Vocabulary
Module 8 presents a variety of strategies for teaching core and extended vocabulary using their AAC system. These strategies provide starting points for guiding POWER:AAC classroom teams in developing their own systematic approach to teaching vocabulary use with their students.

Module 9: Use AAC in Class
Module 9 addresses the four purposes of communication as defined by Janice Light in her work on Communicative Competence – wants and needs, information transfer, social closeness, and social etiquette. For students who use AAC, learning to communicate for these purposes puts them on a path towards increasing communication competence. IEP goals are also discussed in this module.

Module 10: Use AAC at Home
Module 10 focuses on the role of parents and the family in their child’s AAC communication success. This module is designed to help school staff support parents and families as they use their child’s AAC system and core vocabulary at home.

Module 11: Collect Evidence
Module 11 provides guidelines, resources, and some starting points for collecting data on students’ progress in their use of their personal AAC systems.

Module 12: Share Resources
Module 12, the final module in this POWER:AAC Series, provides resources to help you connect with a community of others who share a commitment to the principles of a POWER:AAC classroom, as well as experiences and idea about its implementation.