AAC Campaign--Get people talking about AAC and help more people get access to communication technology, training and ongoing support

We are continuing our efforts to bring awareness and understanding of the need for anyone who has limited communication to gain access to other ways to communicate, termed AAC (augmentative and alternative communication methods). These methods include other ways to speak, write and read such as electronic talking aids, computers, tablet computers, boards and books with pictures, words, and letters, Talking Mats, Communication Passports, eye-gaze, partner-assisted scanning, facilitated communication training, Rapid Prompting Method, gesture and sign language, and captioning. We encourage you to learn more and to teach others about AAC methods and how they can help with expression and with understanding what is being said.

Here are some ideas for learning more about AAC, increasing the visibility of AAC and people who use it, and helping people who use AAC to teach others about communication. Invite a person who uses AAC to make a speech or other presentation. Invite a person who uses AAC to demonstrate their communication method and to have a conversation so that others may learn better to interact with and listen to people who use various AAC systems. Host a film about AAC and invite people who use AAC to share their experiences with the audience. Connect people who are new to using AAC to communicate with mentors who are experienced users of AAC. Work with people who use AAC and their families and supporters to organize fundraising events to raise funds for AAC devices in your local area and to share information about AAC. Get local news media to interview people who use AAC and to print stories about AAC technology, the numbers of people who need AAC but may not have access, the lack of professionals trained in AAC, and related issues.

AAC Visibility and Awareness Project

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Textbooks and other books supporting the use of Facilitated Communication


Textbooks and other books supporting the use of Facilitated Communication and people who use it, by well respected and knowledgeable experts on AAC and on education of people with severe disabilities. 

Note:  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but merely a list with some good examples. 


Hank Bersani, Ph.D.  
Bersani, H.A., Jr. (Ed.).  (1999).  Responding to the challenge:  current trends and international issues in developmental disabilities:  essays in honor of Gunnar Dybwad.  Cambridge, MA:  Brookline Books.
Hank Bersani’s tribute to Gunnar Dybwad includes a chapter entitled “Not to Yield” by Robert Williams Parsons Cutler, Jr., a well known advocate and past President of AutCom, and well known adult with autism who communicates by typing using facilitated communication methods.  The book with chapter titles and authors is noted here: 


David R. Beukelman, Ph.D., and Pat Mirenda, Ph.D.
Beukelman, D. R. & Mirenda, P.  (2005).  Augmentative & Alternative Communciation:  Supporting children & adults with complex communication needs.  (3rd ed., pp. 323-326)
“Sharisa [Kochmeister] joins a small group of people around the world who began communicating through FC and are now able to type either independently or with minimal, hand-on-shoulder support.  There can be no doubt that, for them, FC “worked,” in that it opened the door to communication for the first time.  In addition, hundreds (or even thousands) of individuals use FC with physical support.  To many observers, it does not seem clear whether these individuals are authoring their own messages.  Thus, FC has become controversial and hotly contested as a valid and reliable technique (e.g., Calculator, 1999b; Duchan, 1999; Green & Shane, 1994).  We include FC here because of Sharisa Kochmeister (1997), Lucy Blackman (1999), Jamie Burke (Broderick & Kasa-Hendrickson, 2001), Sue Rubin (1998), and others who now communicate fluently and independently, thanks to FC.  For them, the controversy has ended.” 


Joanne M. Cafiero, Ph.D.
Cafiero, J. M.  (2005) Meaningful Exchanges for People with Autism: An Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication.  Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
“There is a lack of scientific evidence in tightly controlled studies validating Facilitated Communication. This lack of quantitative evidence to support Facilitated Communication should not in any way discourage parents and practitioners from considering keyboards as communication options, nor should opportunities to provide literacy instruction be ignored. There are qualitative studies of individuals with ASD who participated in Facilitated Communication and are now independent typing communicators. Providing physical support in keyboarding must involve a systematic fading of those prompts and physical supports with the ultimate goal of encouraging functional, spontaneous, unprompted communication.”  (pages 79-80)


June Downing, Ph.D.  
Downing, J.  (2004).  Communication skills.  In F. Orelove, D. Sobsey & R. K. Silberman (Eds.), Educating children with multiple disabilities:  A collaborative approach (3rd ed., pp. 551-552).  Boston:  Paul H. Brookes. 
June Downing notes that “FC thus offers some individuals with severe and multiple disabilities an opportunity to express themselves and should be considered as a viable intervention option.”
Here is the entire section on Facilitated Communication in her chapter (11): 
 “Facilitated Communication (FC), a controversial approach to teaching and helping some students to communicate, combines physical and emotional support with the use of an AAC device (Biklen, 1973; Crossley, 1994).  Although this approach uses several strategies of direct instruction (e.g. prompts, reinforcement, fading), the controversy surrounding it focuses on the authorship of the created message (Green & Shane, 1994; Kaiser, 1994).  The major concern with the technique is that the person supporting the student (the facilitator) will consciously or unconsciously take a primary role in developing messages that are then said to come from the student.  Such influence is present in any use of ACDs when the person using the device requires substantial assistance to do so, however.  Obviously, with any intervention strategy, the critical goal is to fade support to allow the student maximum independent performance.  When FC is done correctly, the facilitator does not move the students hand to create the message but instead, follows the student's lead and only provides support as needed to allow the student access to the device (Crossley, 1994).  The facilitator steadies the individual's arm but does not direct it in the development of a message.

The ACD used in FC can be a simple letter board, a complex electronic device, a picture-based system, objects, or essentially any device that requires direct selection of the message.  When performed correctly, authorship of the message by the individual with severe disabilities can be ascertained (Biklen, Saha, Kliewer, 1995; Cardinal, Hanson and Wakeham, 1996).  FC thus offers some individuals with severe and multiple disabilities an opportunity to express themselves and should be considered as a viable intervention option.”