The importance of AAC role models
It can be very challenging for children and young people learning to use an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device to support their communication and learning, so it’s great when they have a role model that they can look up to and learn from.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is something that the majority of the population probably won’t come across unless they have a personal connection to someone who uses a communication aid. That’s why it’s so important to have role models who use AAC and can help to spread AAC awareness.
Lee Ridley (aka Lost Voice Guy)
Stand-up comedian Lee Ridley (aka Lost Voice Guy) is now a household name. He first came to prominence when he appeared in the 12th series of Britain’s Got Talent. It was incredibly eye opening to see a comedian who literally couldn’t speak make people laugh via a communication aid. For many it was probably the first time they saw someone use a communication aid.
Our CENMAC student ambassador Khamani was lucky enough to have a conversation with Lee to find out a bit about how felt about learning to use AAC. “I think my first communication aid was called a touch-talker and it was pretty massive. I also remember being reluctant to use it… I think I only saw the benefits when I finally had a reason to use it such as in social situations”.
Abdi Omar – Inspirational Speaker and AAC Advocate
Abdi Omar is an inspirational speaker and also works as an AAC Consultant for CENMAC. Every week Abdi holds AAC sessions for some of the students at Charlton Park Academy who use AAC to support their learning and communication.
Abdi knows that learning to use an AAC device can be hard, so he encourages the students to learn with fun interactive games and quizzes. Abdi has become a bit of a legend at Charlton Park Academy and the students crowd around him when he comes to visit.
Abdi and the team have made a short video along with some downloadable posters featuring his Top Ten Tips for AAC Awareness.
Ellise Hayward – Inspirational Speaker and disabilities correspondent
Ellise Hayward has not let cerebral palsy stand in her way. Ellise uses her voice to spread cerebral palsy awareness. She is also a disabilities correspondent and general reporter for Jill Dando News.
Student ambassador Khamani spoke to Ellise and asked her what advice she would give to children and young people learning to use a communication aid. “You are not alone. Don’t be afraid to speak up and use a communication aid. I was very shy and wouldn’t use a voice on my eye gaze to speak as I didn’t like to feel different to my peers. I soon found a voice I love…From a young Ellise who didn’t like to draw any attention to my needs, and I just happily sitting in the corner hiding out the way. To the Ellise I am now, I’m not afraid to show who I am. I want to be that person to talk to who may be in a similar situation that I was.”