Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is any method of communication used to to supplement or replace speech. AAC are methods employed in order to help those with severe language and speech problems interact with others or assist them in learning.
Low-Tech Communication Tool
A very simple low-tech tool I discovered is a Visual Schedule. It is used to communicate with autistic students what they are expected to do each day, and it gives them a visual representation of what they have already completed. Visual Schedules are used to develop a child's organization skills and independent functioning throughout their daily life. These schedules could be simple such as words written on a whiteboard, or even graphics on a poster board. They are a first-then strategy, meaning they tell the student "first you do ___, then you do ___." To supplement these daily Visual Schedules you can also use calendars which will further organize the student so they know what is expected of them over the long period of time.
High-Tech Communication Tool
A company I found that develops high-tech AAC devices is ZYGO. They have a tool called the Optimist MMX that converts text to speech, and uses pictures and a touch pad display to make its usage easier. This tool can be used to help a student with severe speech problems communicate with their peers or their teacher. It also allows for the teacher to visually represent the words and ideas to the student by using the graphics on the screen. But this device is very desirable because of its ease of use. It has both a keyboard for typing and a touch screen that can be folded back and rotated. This device is best suited for a child with a speech disorder, but its ease of use and its use of pictures can also help out a child with a learning disability connect a picture to a word.
An input device is a device that is used to input information into a computer such as a keyboard, mouse, controller, scanner, or eye tracker. There are special kinds of input devices made specifically for the disabled.
HardwareI found that there is an entire market of special keyboards known as alternate keyboards. These keyboards offer different types of added accessibility to those with disabilities from larger keys, special lighting and color patterns, to light keystrokes such as the Magic Wand Keyboard. This keyboard is intended for use by those who can't press the keys, so they market it as a no strength keyboard. In the classroom this keyboard could be used for students who have a severe lack in motor skills or are limited in mobility, as all they have to do is lightly touch they keys with the wand.
The software I chose to look at for an input device was called Dragon by a company called Nuance. It takes the speech from the person at the computer and it converts it into text. It is basically a speech into text program. This software could be used to allow someone with a visual or physical disability to use a computer.