Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center
Fishersville, VA 22939

WWRC Therapies

Augmentative/Alternative Communication Program

Overview

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a specialty area of clinical practice in speech language pathology that assists individuals with severe expressive communication disorders (ASHA). In the WWRC Augmentative and Alternative Communication Program, a unique team works together to assess the communication needs of clients with severe speech impairments or no functional speech or writing. The interdisciplinary team is headed by a speech-language pathologist and may include an occupational therapist, physical therapist, rehabilitation engineer, vocational evaluator, and/or computer systems engineer.

Both low and high assistive technology solutions are applied to provide clients with the most appropriate communication system to meet communication needs. Specialized training in using the systems in daily functional settings is incorporated into all clients’ programs.

Who typically needs the service?

  • People with speech impairments that alter the effectiveness of their communication.
  • People who are not able to communicate all daily needs (such as presence of pain, desire for food, care needs, and social interaction) through their present communication modes.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about AAC evaluations:

How are the evaluation and the communication device funded? 
Private Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, DRS, school systems, private pay

How long does the evaluation take? 
Typically three to four hours

Will I leave the evaluation with a communication device? 
Typically a trial rental or loan period of two to four weeks is recommended.  An appropriate device usually has to be ordered for a trial period, so the client may need to return for delivery of the trial device.

What if I am traveling a long distance? 
There are local lodging options for a special rate, and you may qualify to stay at WWRC. We will try to accommodate your needs for a rest during the evaluation, if needed.

How long does the entire process take? 
After the paperwork is submitted, the average time for receipt of a purchased communication device is six to 12 weeks.

What about additional training in how to use the device once it is purchased? 
WWRC provides additional AAC training, and we also try to identify support in the local community.

What if my condition changes?
We try to match a device to an individual which has the capability of changing as the individual’s physical and communication needs may change.

Empowerment through Communication Program
The Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Team offers the Empowerment Through Communication (ETC) Program once or twice yearly, depending upon the demand. Clients who already own their communication devices and want to become more proficient with using them to meet their daily communication needs are eligible to attend this two-week intensive program. 

Communication devices displayed

Program Goals Requirements – Participants Must: Communication and Empowerment Activities
  • facilitate communicative competence through intensive group communication activities
  • provide empowerment training to broaden participants’ horizons
  • encourage progress toward setting vocational and independent living goals
  • own a functioning  AAC device
  • be able to commit to ten days
  • be interested in becoming more integrated into the community
  • be motivated to improve communication skills
  • be ready to have fun and try new things
  • conversation skills
  • interviewing
  • storytelling
  • making speeches
  • making phone calls
  • asking questions of presenters
  • initiating conversation within the community
  • learning programming skills
  • potentially learning computer access or computer components of the device

Contact Information

Email AAC Program (AACInfo@wwrc.virginia.gov)
Phone 800-345-9972, Ext. 7086 or 540-332-7086
TTY 800-811-7893