In the context of ever increasing technological advances in AAC we can sometimes forget about one of the most powerful features any device needs - a supportive communication partner. We want to spend some time thinking about and reflecting upon the incredible power and influence both positive and negative communication partner interactions can have upon the success of an AAC device. Through sharing both professional and personal experiences we hope to explore why a communication partner can be so integral to successful, lifelong, AAC use. We want to remind communication partners why they are so important and empower AAC users and their carers to speak up when perhaps they are met with a 'less than helpful' partner
We briefly explored the literature regarding communication partners and interaction / outcomes within AAC. However it was when sharing personal experiences we found the most powerful evidence of how a particular communication partner can make all the difference (both positive and negative).
When surrounded by skilled communication partners who encourage and support the AAC user, it is much more likely that the user will experience positive, affirming communication experiences, which in turn encourage future interactions and continued AAC use. Similarly, when communication partners and enagaged and enthusiastic it is much more likely that the device will grow with the AAC user as opposed to becoming underused and often (unfortunately) left in a cupboard.
For Emily in particular the thoughts shared during this experience will influence how she supports people who use AAC. It has reinforced for her the importance of ensuring that people who use AAC have meaningful conversations and interactions which encourage and inspire them to continue doing so for the rest of their lives.