Assistive Technology: Principles and Application for Communication Disorders and Special Education

Ann Aspinall (Telehealth Project Manager, NHS Gloucestershire, UK.)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Article publication date: 30 November 2012



Aspinall, A. (2012), "Assistive Technology: Principles and Application for Communication Disorders and Special Education", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 302-303.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book forms part of a series and focuses on a single theme – Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). All of the books will relate to the broader communication model. This book provides a single source of information about the use of assistive technology (AT) in the process of communication. It provides extensive background to information on AAC and AT and focuses on interventions for individuals with a variety of communication disorders including learning disabilities and sensory impairments. It covers both high and low tech technologies, plenty of illustrations and recommendations from practical users. The contents are useful for users of AAC, their families and professionals both experienced and new to AAC and AT. It presents evidence‐based approaches, theoretical models and practical applications.

There are plenty of definitions of various “technologies”, this book not only gives a range of definitions of all types of technology but also gives a variety of uses of the various types of ATs, explaining the relationship of AAC to AT and summaries the application of technology to the general field of disabilities discussing the primary characteristics of the terms “high” and “low” technologies. Later chapters discuss low and high technologies in more detail and give many examples which can be used to trigger the imagination of the reader.

For those readers who have an interest in how AT has developed the author describes what he defines as the three stages:

  1. 1.

    The Foundation Period prior to 1900;

  2. 2.

    The Establishment Period 1900‐1972; and

  3. 3.

    The Empowerment Period which covers 1973 to today.

This book brings together principles of literacy assessment and intervention and the use of specific approaches and technologies as they relate to AAC users. The idea for the book was conceived by Raymond W. Quist and Lyle L. Lloyd who recognised the need for a source of information on AT to be more closely related to AAC and speech and language acquisition focusing less on computers and software and more on speech‐generated devices (SGDs).

To summarise, as described by the publishers, this book provides readers with a vast knowledge of practical applications, theoretical models, services and evidence‐based solutions in the areas of AT and AAC. It aims to equip practicing clinicians, educators and students with the necessary background to use AT and AAC with their clients. This book also sheds light on the many different roles and functions of AT and AAC for a large variety of clinical populations, and suggests solutions the reader can implement immediately. Although a particular focus is set on communication disorders, described applications and resources also apply to individuals with developmental disabilities and sensory impairments. In addition to outlining most recent low and high technology, this book makes a particularly strong effort to teach general principles and guidelines for successful AT and AAC interventions regardless of what particular technology is used.

The reviewer believes that this book would make a positive addition to the bookshelf of any professional dealing with AT and/or AAC, including speech‐language pathologists, special educators, occupational therapists, physical therapists, early intervention specialists, students in professional programmes, users of AT or AAC, their families, applied researchers and anyone who would like to learn more about the history of AAC/AT. It provides an excellent read for novices and seasoned professionals alike.

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