Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) refers to any assistive technology device or technique used to enhance a person’s communication abilities. There are many different types of AAC devices, including “no tech”, “low tech”, and “high tech”.

What is a no tech AAC device?

A no tech AAC device is simply anything that allows a child or adult to communicate more effectively without using technology. This typically refers to some technique making use of the person’s own body to communicate.

For example:

  • Sign language, fingerspelling
  • Knocking on a door
  • Eye or finger pointing
  • Tapping or squeezing hand

What is a low tech AAC device?

A low tech AAC device is any type of technology used to improve communication.  There are so many ways to improve communication, and they do not have to be expensive or complex.  You see them every day, but for communities that lack resources, these types of devices can make an enormous impact.

Below are several examples of these low tech assistive devices:

  • Pen and Paper (especially for anyone non-verbal)
  • A pencil grip that allows someone to properly hold a pencil
  • Flash-cards and picture cards that can be used to communicate a person’s needs
  • Canes, walkers, and wheelchairs
  • A magnifying glass or eyeglasses that make words appear larger or clearer

What is a high tech AAC device?

A high tech assistive technology device is a device that does have some more complex technology behind the scenes.  Computers, mobile devices, iPhones, iPads, Androids, etc.  We now have an abundant  number of high tech devices, which frequently require upgrades and become quickly outdated. 

This is where Nika comes in: we take those devices and repurpose them with AAC-specific applications.  Although we gladly accept low-tech devices as well, our focus is on high tech devices that have the ability to immediately make a drastic change in a person’s day-to-day life.  This is especially important in countries and communities that do not have access to resources found in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Below are some of the devices we are constantly asking for on our Donate page:

  • iPads
  • iPhones
  • iPods (with cameras)
  • Android devices
  • Laptops (Windows and Macs)
  • Chargers and power cables

If you have any of the above in working order but no longer used, please check out our Donate page and send them our way.  We guarantee they can make a world of difference.

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AAC in Malaysia

The Nika Project is so proud to have been a contributor and collaborator with the digital AAC communication program with Dr Susheel Kaur Dhillion, a senior lecturer and speech language pathologist, and the entire department at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Faculty of Health Sciences. Nika will be returning this August to continue this project with 4 regional school programs in Kuala Lumpur.

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Assistive Technology (AT) is the umbrella term that covers any piece of equipment, device, or software application that can be used to enhance  someone’s ability to perform their day-to-day functions, whether that be walking, reading, or communicating.

The term applies to the elderly as well as persons with disabilities.

Assistive technology devices can be as complex as a software application that translates a person’s eye movement into speech or as simple as a pencil grip to help a young student hold their pencil.


Assistive Technology vs Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a specific branch of Assistive Technology (AT), focusing on communication.

AAC tools can then be broken down further.  You may need different tools and techniques for persons who are verbal versus those who are nonverbal.  Different situations and disabilities require different techniques and devices.

Since communication and verbal speech is so important for a person to develop skills, AAC services are often provided to children and young adults, to maximize their success later in life.  A Speech Language Pathologist is often called in to asses the child or student’s situation and recommend either an AAC device or AAC techniques that can be used to improve that child’s life.

How Does The Nika Project Support AAC?

The Nika Project gathers assistive technology devices, either high tech or low tech, through donations from the community.

In the case of high tech devices, such as mobile iPads, iPhones, Android devices, etc., we wipe them completely, and then refurbish them with known AAC applications.

Once they’re ready, we distribute them to schools in need of AAC services, both locally and globally, and empower the teachers to enhance the communication and education for their students.

If you would like to donate your used low tech or mobile devices, please check out our Donate Assistive Technology form.

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We are very pleased to announce that David Goldberg from Global AAC has joined The Nika Project’s board!

David Goldberg, Board Member

David has worked in the AAC/AT field since 1988, first representing 25 manufacturers through Health Science, and then as an employee with Tobii Dynavox. His passion has been to provide solutions for people with severe communication disorders including autism, Down Syndrome, developmental delay, Rett Syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, ALS, MS, other MNDs. He earned his BA in Psychology from SUNY Buffalo, a BS from City College, and an MS from NYU Polytechnic University of NY. He is a certified ATP – Assistive Technology Professional through RESNA.

We are very excited to have David’s experience and passion on our board as we continue growing into 2019 and beyond!

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The Nika Project is so honored to be publicly recognized in several Nigerian news outlets for our work towards supporting Aisha Buhari’s efforts at Future Assured to improve special education throughout Nigeria.  Here are a couple

Special Children Deserve Modern Care – Aisha Buhari – PRNigeria News

Special Children deserve Modern Care-Aisha Buhari Wife of the President has called on caregivers to use modern methods to raise children with special needs.

Aisha Buhari to caregivers: Use modern methods to raise children with special needs

Buhari made the call during the commencement of a one-week training programme for teachers, health workers and caregivers of children with special needs at the FCT School for Handicapped Children, Kuje, Abuja on Tuesday.

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The Future Assured organization in Nigeria recently featured The Nika Project in a short AAC documentary.

Future Assured is an initiative founded by Aisha Buhari, the wife of Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria.

We are so honored to have so much support in Nigeria as we help the team Aisha Buhari’s team build a template for special needs schools in the area.  We can’t wait to revisit in February 2019 to build the first assistive technology resource program.

If you are interested in donating your time and joining Nika, let us know!

Check out Dan Phillips and Cindy Evans below in this short 5 minute excerpt from the AAC documentary:

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