Let’s Talk AAC Blog: Making AAC Work

Jane Odom M. Ed, Director of Implementation Resources at PRC, offers tips and suggestions for implementing AAC.

Emerging Writers and AAC

Posted February 25, 2015 in Making AAC Work

By Jane Odom, M.Ed, Director of Implementation Resources, PRC

Jane Odom

Why? (Musselwhite, 09)
  • Writing involves thinking – we want students to realize this from the beginning.
  • Students need to learn strategies for writing and know when to use them.
  • Students need to be able to plan, write and edit their writing.
What Does the Research Tell Us?
  • Students who write become better readers.
  • Students learn to write when given daily opportunities to see others write.
  • Student must have frequent opportunities to write without standards to make progress in the process of composition.


What are Priorties When Including Children with Disabilities? (Musselwhite, Erickson, Stemach & Odom, 05)
  • Access and opportunity to use the alphabet.
  • Emphasis on the entire process of composing, not only mechanics of grammar and spelling.
  • For AAC users, teaching them to systematically incorporate letter by letter spelling and the use of prestored words, messages and word prediction.

So, what does emergent writing look like for the AAC user? Students need opportunities to explore the keyboard on their device. Listening to the sounds of letters as they appear on the device and the ‘words’ they create is important. Many think this is just play, but is it actually a learning opportunity. Students need time to use their AAC device to send text to a word processor. Students learn best through meaningful experiences in the environment, so it is up to us as educators, to create these activities. The lesson plans in the AAC Language Lab contain writing activities and templates. These activities can easily be incorporated into the classroom daily routine to give students the practice they need to become confident writers as well as communicators. In the following months, we will explore a variety of activities that can be used to help your students become better writers and therefore, better communicators.

Musselwhite, C. (2009) The Balanced Literacy Club! Strategies for Students with Significant Disabilities. Paper presented at the CSUN 24th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference, Los Angeles, CA.

Musselwhite, C., Erickson, K., Stemach, J., and Odom, J. (2005). Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters & Core Language. Paper presented at the Closing the Gap Conference, Minneapolis, MN.


  • On March 5, 2015, Guest said:

    Terrific message. This seems like something we need to keep stressing for students of all ages.