AAC Tips for Multilingual Clients

A while back, I wrote a blog post with links to websites featuring picture communication symbol boards in Spanish. Premade communication boards with picture symbols like those mentioned make life easier, and can be used as is (manual boards), modified for the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) or placed in static communication devices.

Activity-Based (Sports, Mealtime) Communication Board Examples:

communication board sports



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Communication Boards with Tips in Spanish

Many children are using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) or communication boards at school across various environments.  Incorporating the system into the home environment is just as essential.  In addition, it will help get the family on board and maybe put to rest the ever-persistent myth that communication symbols impede speech development.

See here for evidence-based practice supporting the use of AAC for enhancing the development of speech:


Romski, M., & Sevcik, R. A. (2005). Augmentative communication and early intervention: Myths and realities. Infants & Young Children, 18(3), 174-185.

Additionally, it is just as important to work with families who speak other languages, such as Spanish, by inviting them to participate in the improvement of communication.  One way to do this, is to introduce communication symbols into the home environment, in the home language.

Tips when introducing Spanish communication symbols into the home:

  1. It is beneficial for the SLP or classroom teacher to write the English translation on the opposite side of the symbol, before laminating it, as a reference if the person working with the child does not understand the home language. Some symbols may have the Spanish and English word written on the same side as the picture symbol.  For many students, this will be a great tool for use in school with monolingual staff and students, as well as at home.
  2. Not sure how to pronounce a word, or the meaning of the word?  http://www.spanishdict.com/ has both the translation and an option to hear the pronunciation.
  3. While some items are popular in Spanish-speaking households, this certainly does not hold true across different Latin American and Caribbean cultures.  For example, some countries in Latin America eat tamales but many do not eat them and it should not be assumed that they do.
  4. To avoid the situation mentioned in #3, write or call the child’s family.  If the SLP or teacher does not speak Spanish, send home a note asking about home life.  Food is an important cultural aspect and the preferred types of food consumed at home is valuable information.  Asking “¿Cual es su comida favorita en casa?” meaning “What is your favorite food at home?” in Spanish will open up the table for discussion, so to speak.

Direct links with communication symbols in Spanish:

  • Direct links (Boardmaker software is not needed)

http://www.speakingofspeech.com/uploads/FirstWords1.pdf (core words, family members) […]

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Proxtalker: The AAC Device That is Adaptable for Bilingual Students

The Proxtalker is a static display voice output device created for a child named Logan, who was diagnosed with autism.  Logan was mastering PECS but experiencing some difficulty transitioning to a dynamic display device.  Logan’s father, an engineer and ultimately the inventor of the product, decided to create a device which would prepare his son for a dynamic display device, like an iPad.  The Proxtalker is brilliant in that it can hold 10,000 words and phrases.  There is a 6 cell display which is constantly adaptable depending on the activity.  Radio frequency identification tags (or the little white squares seen below), feature a chip and an antenna, and are coded with words and phrases which can be modified if the user feels necessary.


Let me just say this entry is merely an opinion and I am in no way endorsed by this company for discussing this device.  That being said, I love the Proxtalker for my Spanish-speaking students and here’s why:

-The Proxtalker is not only easy to program, but the instructions for programming are built into the machine and provided in both Spanish and in English.

-The Proxtalker does not use laminated PECs symbols, but rather […]

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