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Implementation of AAC aids in schools for students with special educational needs: teachers’ perceptions

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Aim: The aim of this study was to describe teachers’ perceptions of the implementation of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) aids in reception and foundation phases (Grades 0-3) of schools for learners with special educational needs (LSEN) in two metropolitan school districts.

Method: A survey design was used. A comprehensive sampling technique was employed to recruit all teachers who taught at least one student having access to an AAC aid for expressive purposes in the classroom. Only nine of a possible 26 schools in the districts confirmed that AAC aids were being implemented in some reception/foundation phase classrooms. A total of 26 teachers completed a questionnaire with closed and open-ended questions.

Results: Results suggest that electronic and non-electronic aids are implemented to assist students with LNFS to express themselves. Aids typically belong to the school rather than the student and mostly remain at school. Teachers generally see themselves as responsible for many aspects around AAC aid implementation, including vocabulary selection and system design. The most significant challenges experienced were limited time for implementation and the fact that peers did not know how to interact with students when they are using a communication aid for expression.

Conclusion: The results enhance the understanding of AAC implementation in school districts that are generally regarded as well-resourced. Barriers to teamwork with parents should be further explored as should be reasons for the lack of AAC implementation at other schools for LSEN.


Kerstin Tönsing    
Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication
South Africa

Shakila Dada    
Centre for Augmentative and alternative Communication
South Africa


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