Where to Start? A journey through a complex AAC assessment



Practice Report

    • Andrea Kirton (Barnsley Assistive Technology Team)
    • Victoria Johnson (Barnsley Assistive Technology Team)


This paper aims to highlight the complexity of a detailed AAC assessment through an individual case study. This client came to our team as an adult with little information about her previous AAC use and with no current system. Her skills were explored in depth and pieced together to develop a functional AAC system.


The assessment included trialling access methods, assessing symbolic representations, discussing social use of the aid and staff training. The client’s fluctuating skills, changing staff and emotional/social situation impeded the assessment and it was difficult to consolidate any skill despite the strong feeling that there was potential for AAC use.


Assessment revealed that the client knew bliss symbols. This meant that whilst the more complex access assessment was taking place, we could quickly get a low tech book in place and meet the initial referral request of allowing her to express her feelings and opinions and make decisions. Several access methods were explored which will be described in detail.


Some positive changes in the client’s situation meant that she gained in confidence and skills we had not previously seen started to show. This again changed the direction of the assessment leaving this case study further along it’s journey, but as of yet, with no conclusions.

Level of Session


Age Group