Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wearing Your Words

Jabber Jas Harness

Custom ChatBag
Wearing your words is essential when you are an ambulatory AAC user.  You need to be able to access your AAC at all times and you can't do that if gets left in another room or is in your backpack.  AAC users who also use wheelchairs or strollers face different issues in terms of mounting their AAC systems but sometimes it is even more of a challenge if the user is running around and active.

Parents or schools should implement a means to carry/wear AAC systems at the same moment they acquire the "talker" itself.  However, it is never too late if you are already using a mobile talker.  Some children do just fine with a shoulder style carry bag that is open to the screen and allows the talker to be flipped up and used without removing.  Others will try to remove or throw such a system and need a harness style carrying system that is more tamper proof.  The goal is to find the least invasive system that allows full access without risk of losing or throwing the talker.  Custom designs can increase appeal and "buy in" where as off-the-shelf, commercial solutions may look more "typical" and be less expensive.  The draw back to commercial solutions is that they may not be fitted for children or teens and may not be as durable.  It might be important for certain features to be available for example the ability to attach a bluetooth speaker, to block access to various ports or to charge without removing the carrying case.  Another consideration is any orthopedic issues or potential for future orthopedic issues from carrying 1-2 pounds over the shoulder or in a harness. If this is a possible issue consult your OT or PT. A waist belt with flip up attachments can be created in a DIY manner if over the shoulder(s) is not a good solution.
Please see this list to assist with feature matching.
Jabber Jas

If you are starting off you child in wearing his or her words and you need to help them understand how important it is some ideas include: you wearing his or her words as well, social stories about wearing your talker and using pictures of other children wearing their words such as in this Pictello book in PDF form (or get through sharing server with this  code which is good for 100 days 9658-4211).  You can also check the #seemeseemyaac find photos. 

Custom Made

Shoulder Strap Style

Harness Style
Commercially Made

Shoulder Strap Style
Harness Style
 *has one handed use option


  1. Weight distribution and head/neck positioning need to be taken into consideration, and this is a job for people with the knowledge and experience to do it right.

    Bags and other carrying cases/straps that are used with this level of frequency should be carefully vetted for these reasons before purchase by a PT or OT -especially for growing children.

    Our son Josh has developed atypical head/neck posturing, specifically, a forward head posture with increasing cervical lordosis and upper thoracic kyphosis that can no longer be corrected by Josh nor corrected passively. He had worn his ‘talker’ on a variety of carrying devices for more than 15 years before both his PT and orthopedic surgeon recommended he stop doing so. We were also encouraged to place Josh’s device in more supportive position to decrease his time looking down as much as possible.

  2. What do you recommend for a wearable/portable amplifier that can be velcroed on the harness or attached to a lanyard?

  3. This is a very real challenge for my daughter she has an iPad Air with the iadaptor case. She also only 45 lbs and uses a walker. Someone else has to carry it near by and in the bitter cold it often in her knapsack during travel to and from school and activities so she is without words so often. She doesn't have the balance to carry it herself and she couldn't handle the added weight on her walker.


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