Culturally Responsive AAC

What is Culturally Responsive AAC?

Speech-language pathologists have identified the provision of services to children with complex communication needs from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as one of their greatest professional challenges (Light & McNaughton, 2012). In the U.S., many clients in need of AAC services come from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds. Appropriate AAC service delivery to clients from CLD backgrounds requires not only appropriate technologies but also research-based evidence on the efficacy of intervention approaches (Soto, 2018). It is impossible for a clinician or a teacher to know the languages and cultures of all the clients they serve. But it is possible to create a ‘climate’ where the child is viewed as a whole; where different languages and cultural practices are included and legitimized; where there are materials not only in different modalities but in different languages; and where clients and families feel proud of and build on their home language.

Culturally Responsive AAC Resources

There is an increasing number of online resources available for culturally and linguistically responsive assessments, interventions, and resources for professionals and families of children with complex communication needs. Below is a small curated list of some of the resources that are available. For additional resources, check this Padlet.

  • Communication Forms and Functions: The Communication Forms and Functions worksheet provides information about the range of communication modes and purposes used by a student/client
  • The Communication Sampling and Analysis (CSA) is an assessment tool designed for infants, toddlers, and children with multiple physical, sensory, speech, and cognitive/linguistic challenges. 
  • The Communication Matrix is a free assessment tool available to help families and professionals easily determine the communication needs of anyone functioning at the early stages of communication. It is available in 12 languages.
  • The Dynamic AAC Goals Grid-2 (DAGG-2) provides a systematic means to assess (and reassess) an individual’s current skills in AAC and to assist partners plan for enhancing the AAC user’s communicative independence. It is translated and available in both English and Spanish.
  • The AAC Profile (AACP) is an assessment tool that measures sub subjective, functional skills for developing communicative competence using AAC systems; re-evaluates skill level; and monitors progress.
  • The MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (MBCDI) are parental report instruments that capture important information about a child’s developing languages. It is available in more than 70 languages.
  • The Quick AAC Developmental Profile (QUAD) is a tool to manually analyze aided language samples in English. It includes four checklists that focus on the areas of vocabulary, morphology, syntax and function.
  • The Ventura County Comprehensive Alternate Language Proficiency Survey for Students with Moderate-Severe Disabilities (VCCALPS) is a survey instrument may be used to assess language proficiency of students with disabilities in both the primary language as well as English. A copy of VCCALPS can be found on their website.
  • The Speech and Activity Assessment of Children (SPAA-C) is available in several languages and is designed to collect information about the impact of speech difficulties on children’s lives.
  • The Narrative Assessment Profile (NAP) is a tool to assess the following dimensions of narration: topic maintenance, event sequencing, explicitness, referencing, conjunctive cohesion, and fluency.
  • The Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN) is an instrument for assessing narrative skills in bilingual and multilingual children.
  • The Protocol for the Analysis of Aided Language Samples in Spanish (Soto, 2022) is a tool for the manual analysis of aided language samples in Spanish for individuals who are in the earlier stages of Spanish language development and use AAC. 
  • The Project Building Bridges Competency Form is a competency guide for Speech Language Pathologists serving students with AAC needs from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The published tool is available to ASHA members: Solomon-Rice, P. L., Soto, G. & Robinson, N. B. (2018). Project Building Bridges: Training Speech-Language Pathologists to Provide Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Augmentative and Alternative Communication Services to School-Age Children With Diverse Backgrounds. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 3 (12), 186-204. ASHAWIRE Project Building Bridges
  • Huer Self-assessment for Clinicians Serving Culturally Diverse Individuals With Complex Communication Needs. A copy of the self-assessment tool can be found at: Blake Huer, M. (1997). Culturally inclusive assessments for children using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Journal of Children's Communication Development 19(1), 23-34. SAGE journals Communication Disorders Quarterly

AAC Intervention Across Cultures and Languages:

AAC Girls Logo

AAC Girls is the companion to the website, AAC Intervention. This site shares quick posts, tips and a list of Bilingual Spanish-English apps and manufacturers.

ARASAAC Development Materials Logo

This website offers ARSAAC graphic symbols free of charge, and materials to support communication and language development in Spanish and multiple languages. Of special interest in the icon library, tools to customize the icons, and the multiple resources for assessment and intervention in Spanish.

AVAZ Inc Logo

Avaz AAC is a picture and text-based widely used in India that supports six Indian languages, Sri Lankan languages, English, French, Danish, Swedish and Icelandic.

Colorin Colorado Logo

Colorín Colorado is a national multimedia project that offers a wealth of bilingual, research-based information, activities and advice for educators and families of English language learners (ELLs).

CoughDrop Logo

CoughDrop is open source, and incorporates open-licensed content like free symbols and community-generated boards, and all our vocabulary sets are released under a Creative Commons license. CoughDrop is also a collaboration tool for teams who support each communicator, with built-in reports, goals, messaging and video-recording too.

Hablo Con CAA Logo

Hablo con CAA has created a curated list of resources for professionals and families in Spanish for children with complex communication needs.

Open AAC Logo

Open AAC is an initiative by the developers of CoughDrop to create open-licensed resources and tools to support AAC users. Open AAC includes OpenSymbols, a collection of open-licensed picture symbols to represent many cultures and languages across the world and currently includes access to more than 50,000 symbols and icons.

PrAACtical AAC Logo

PrAACtical AAC, founded by Carole Zangari and Robin Parker,  supports a community of professionals and families who are determined to improve the communication and literacy abilities of people with significant communication difficulties

Puentes Culturales Logo

Puentes Culturales has offered cultural competency analysis, educational programs, professional development, interpretation and translation services throughout the United States for more than 18 years.

University of Pretoria Logo

The Centre for AAC  at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, is devoted to research and teaching on issues at the intersection of disability, augmentative and alternative communication, early childhood intervention, and cultural and linguistic diversity.

Center for Applied Linguistics Logo

The Center for Applied Linguistics is a nonprofit organization promoting access, equity and mutual understanding for linguistic and culturally diverse people around the world.

Vanderbilt Kidtalk Logo

Vanderbilt Kidtalk is a research group studying language growth in young children with disabilities at Vanderbilt University. Their website provides a number of resources including ones on Enhanced Milieu Teaching in both English and Spanish.

For PDF files, you'll need Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or above to view it. If you need Adobe Acrobat Reader it's available free from Adobe.