what is the difference between augmentive communication and assistive technology?

Augmentative communication and cerebral palsy, and assistive technology are often spoken about interchangeably. As I understand it, augmentative communication is meant to refer to technology that will give people who otherwise have difficulty speaking due to illness or disability a voice. I personally equate assistive technology to things like reacher’s to help you reach for things and other physical items that make living with a physical disability or other impairment easier.
I think often times this all gets confused in the realm of cerebral palsy because a lot of people with cerebral palsy use both forms of technology. I am happy to help by means of clarifying the differences between the two forms of technology and I am personally excited to see the advancements and allow people have the flexibility and independence in their lives. There are a vast variety of options available in both forms of augmentative and assistive technologies, some are even considered mainstream now.


An example of an assistive technology that I currently use as Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software that today is considered mainstream technology. When I began to use in 1996 however, it was almost considered elitist given the price point and was mainly used by doctors and lawyers to help them a more efficient and productive in a more timely manner. Another advantage of the time was it prevented errors of accuracy due to poor penmanship.
I began using it because it allowed me the ability to get my thoughts down on paper independently and in a more timely manner than it previously been possible because of my cerebral palsy. I began using it as a child, and that time it was rare for a child to use this kind of technology. Now, it is more readily accessible, less expensive, and user-friendly.
There are several apps that allow you to do voice recognition dictation with your smart phone which is another way how I dictate blog posts. Using Google’s built-in microphone along with an app like Evernote on most of today’s smartphones, one can dictate a blog post much like I am doing right now. This allows you to be more efficient on the go. I either use the Evernote and Google option or I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking like I am right now. Both can take a little bit of getting used to but allow you the ability to type at the speed one talks, therefore making you more productive. Because most people talk at a faster rate than the physical type.
Augmentative communication on the other hand gives those really don’t have the ability to speak on their own a voice. Their speech may be unclear due to disability or stroke and therefore augmentative communication devices such as the Dyna Vox offer them a means to clear and concise communication that they otherwise would not have. There are of course other devices instead of the Dyna Vox that do a similar purpose but I’ve never used one or seen it in action and therefore am only really familiar with the Dyna Vox.
The point I am trying to make is that technology can truly open up the world of communication both by giving a faster means of typing output, and by giving a means of communication to those who would otherwise struggle to verbally get there very basic needs across to others.

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About lifeofthedifferentlyabled

Laura Forde founded her blog through my eyes: my life with cerebral palsy in December 2009 out of a great need she had, realizing that there was a vast gap in firsthand accounts of what life was like living with Cerebral Palsy: she knew then that the only way to see this reflected online was to create the change herself and thus this blog was born Laura was born four months premature, weighing a mere one pound three ounces and given ten percent odds for survival. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three. After graduating from college, she continued writing and doing what she loves to do most; speaking to groups about her life experiences and sharing what she has learned from her journey. Her blog lifeofthedifferentlyabled was created after discovering that the online community lacked the voice of people in her situation. In its first year, the site saw over 20,000 hits from all over the world. Her readers are from all walks of life; some with disabilities, parents of children, professionals, and others who seek to gain a better understanding of the world of the differently abled. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook
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One Response to what is the difference between augmentive communication and assistive technology?

  1. Crip Video says:

    Very interesting! Does your stroke effect your voice?

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