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Meeting the Communication Needs of AAC Users with Low Vision or Blindness

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Many clients assessed and followed by augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) clinics have conditions with associated (functional) vision loss (e.g. cerebral palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, acquired brain injury, etc.). Additionally, the incidence of vision loss and physical conditions increase with age (e.g. macular degeneration, glaucoma; arthritis) and certain conditions such as diabetes put individuals at risk for vision loss as well physical limitations. Of the number of Canadians who reported having difficulties with seeing in 2006, 95.5% indicated that they also had multiple limitations including agility, mobility and communication (Statistics Canada, 2006). In the 1990s, the Ontario Assistive Devices Program (ADP) estimated that approximately 20% of individuals accessing ADP funding for visual aids had concurrent physical disabilities – and the percentage of AAC clients with functional vision loss is also thought to be significant. Vision Technology Service was created out of the need for an assessment centre with the staff and equipment to provide effective ADP Visual Aids service for clients with multiple disabilities, and works together with AAC clinics to provide effective service to joint clients. This session will use case examples to outline achievements and lessons learned by AAC and vision technology teams in providing joint writing aids service, and promote further discussion around means for effective coordination of client care between visual and AAC services.
Statistics Canada. (2006). Participation and Activity Limitation Survey 2006: Facts on Seeing Limitations. Retrieved on December 5, 2012 from: (PDF Version, 362kb)


Elizabeth Korpal    
West Park Healthcare Centre

Julia Foster    
Vision Technology Service, Inclusive Design Research Centre


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