Purpose

The purpose of this article was to share perspectives and experiences as a provider of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) evaluations and trainings with families in Phoenix, Arizona, who speak Spanish and English in their homes. This article outlines some commonly heard questions and concerns professionals and families share with regard to bilingual AAC intervention and shares some resources the author uses for selecting, customizing, and designing robust bilingual AAC systems, strategies for teaching core words each month, and ways to incorporate both paper-based and electronic-based AAC tools.

Conclusion

In homes where English and Spanish are spoken, experiences with fluent speakers will shape the communicative competencies of their children. As skills are emerging, it is critical that learners make social connections with a communication partner enough to learn the language. Without fluent partners who speak that language with the person, a 2nd language is unlikely to develop. When starting to do this with AAC, therefore, it is helpful to give children and parents the options of choosing English or Spanish every time they engage in social interaction where words are to be shared. Speaking with AAC and using words that occur frequently will increase the number and frequency of opportunities of use, as well as degrees of engagement. Much work is needed regarding Universal Core words in Spanish-speaking or in bilingual English-Spanish–speaking environments. However, the professional guidance for scaffolding and instructing during meaningful interactions throughout the day is not a premise that is exclusive to English language instruction.

References

Additional Resources