Understanding potential social barriers created by AAC/AT

The following excerpt is shared with permission and originally found on the YAACK website.


Home Page for YaacK, A Resource Guide for AAC Connecting Young Kids
Home Page for YaacK, A Resource Guide for AAC Connecting Young Kids


Access barriers and opportunity barriers
In their book, Beukelman & Mirenda (1992) include detailed descriptions of the different types of obstacles to participation that exist for a child with severe communication impairments. Essentially, they describe two main types: "access barriers" and "opportunity barriers".
Access barriers are those in which the inability to participate is due to problems inherent in the child, the environment, or in the AAC system itself. These are generally addressed by straightforward instruction, aids and adaptations. The following table gives some examples of access barriers to communication, as well as solutions.


Access barriers
Solutions

  • Child has a communication disability.
  • Provide child with AAC.
  • AAC is inaccessible (e.g. AAC is not brought outside during recess).
  • Ensure availability of AAC at all times. The child may use different types of AAC that are appropriate to the situation (e.g. sign language during swimming). (See Multimodal communication.)
  • AAC does not have the necessary vocabulary.
  • There are obstacles in the environment (e.g. child in wheelchair cannot get close enough to teacher to use his or her AAC system).
  • Modify the environment.
  • Child lacks the self-confidence to use AAC in order to participate.
  • Work with child to increase self-confidence. Also teach partners how to encourage and assist child in participating.

Opportunity barriers are those in which the inability to participate is due to impediments imposed by the attitudes and fears of persons, or dsicriminatory organizations and policies that are external to the child and the environment. These are often more insidious and difficult to pinpoint, but no less inhibiting than access barriers. The following table gives some examples of opportunity barriers to communication, as well as solutions.
Opportunity barriers
Solutions
  • Partners lack knowledge of how to include child.
  • Partners have negative attitudes towards individuals who have disabilities (e.g. peers think child with disability is weird).
  • Organizations have policies that limit the ability of child to participate (e.g. a chess club does not allow a child to use computer-based AAC during tournaments).
  • Modify policies.







After you have completed these investigations, please click on the Discussions Tab above and respond to this prompt:



Now that you have thought about social barriers, what are some strategies that might facilitate or mitigate social barriers?