Whenever I introduce materials to a student, there are many things I consider. One of the things I consider when it comes to AAC and technology is the ability to easily use my own photos within the app. There are several reasons for this:
It’s easier to modify and individualize. When I can easily add my own photos it allows me to make changes and additions to benefit my individual student. For instance, one of my students really loved marble runs. I was able to teach him the different pieces of the marble run (such as marble, slide, and tube) and get him using much more language during our playtime. These aren’t images you’d find online or in any image catalogue, but they were beneficial for my particular student.
It provides more opportunities for generalization. I often have students with very specific interests. In one case, I had a student who loved tops. It was beneficial for me to take pictures of the multiple tops we had for him when we were teaching him to request “top.” This may seem obvious and simple, but the amount of time I can save by snapping pictures of the materials I already have is substantial.
It’s great for identifying specific items and people in the child’s life, such as people, pets, or an individual’s belongings. This is also beneficial when you’re teaching a child to request specific items (such as a favorite TV show or action figure.)
Allows for the quick addition of new items. Oftentimes, you may find yourself in an environment where there is a new item your learner is motivated to communicate about. When you’re out in the community, on a field trip, or visiting the home of a family member or friend, being able to snap a quick photo and teach a new word is invaluable.
It doesn’t require an internet connection. While many professionals (myself included) sometimes search for images online, I’ve often run into a problem where I have slow or no internet. This effectively reduces opportunities for my learner to learn new words or interact in new environments.
SuperSpeak is a picture based AAC that allows me to do all of the above and offers a tailored learning experience with it’s game based play mode.
Overall, the benefits of using your own pictures can be summed up in saving time and allowing for more learning opportunities for your student.