Ideally an evaluation for an augmentative/alternative communication device for a student is a team effort including the student, the family, the speech language therapist, the teacher and other specialists like an occupational therapist, physical therapist, a teacher of the vision impaired, a teacher of the hearing impaired and others.
The primary role of the teacher is to offer information on the students cognitive and social abilities and needs and to assist with teaching the student how to use the device and obtaining information from the family. The secondary role is to assist the SLP is gathering the information he or she will need. This may include collecting information like diagnosis, current communication methods and more. It may include helping with the trial of a device.
It is fairly universal that every student will have to have a trial or rental of a device (with addition equipment for access if needed) to collect data and determine if the device and access method is appropriate in order to secure funding.
One of the ways that teachers (paraprofessionals and parents/home caregivers) will be able to greatly assist in the process of securing an AAC device is by collecting data during the trial period of the prospective device.
In the classroom we can set up systems to help the SLP collect the information he or she will need to include on their evaluation they will send to Medicaid/Medicare or a private insurance company to secure funding.
Some of the things the SLP will need for the trial review portion of his or her evaluation are:
- the environments in which the device was using (i.e. the classroom, cafeteria, library, community including retail and public locations, vocational settings, after school activities such as scouts, sports, religious education/services)
- the communication partners the device was used with (teacher, therapists (OT, PT, psychological), peers, parents, siblings, community workers, religious staff, personal care attendant, job coach)
- the ways in which the device was used (to comment, to request, to greet and take leave, etc)