Afrikaans AAC Options – Looking at the Latest Resources
By Emma Emmerich
As I am writing this article, many things are going through my head. I am writing in English, in order to make my message accessible to a wider audience. Even though I can express myself clearly, I have to think carefully about how I phrase my sentences, I have to tripple check spelling… making writing this piece in English much more time consuming than it would have been had I written it in my first language, Afrikaans.
Learning to communicate effectively (whether spoken or written) is a complicated process, even more so when an individual has CCN (complex communication needs). Many of these individuals might also have physical impairments that neccessitate the use of technology in order to communicate. Due to the fact that most of the communication devices available locally are imported from other countries, the language usually available is English. Not very helpful for the rainbow nation of South Africa with 11 official languages… For Afrikaans, many exciting things have happened!
As an Afrikaans speaker myself, I am excited to share some ideas with you on the AAC resources currently available in Afrikaans. There is a range of products available, depending on the needs of the individual, from symbol based communication, Afrikaans voice output to Text-based communication sets complete with word prediction in Afrikaans. Also, don’t forget that with most portable, dedicated communication devices (like the GoTalk range), voice output relies on recorded messages, in any language. Asking a classmate or family member to record these messages will add to the authenticity of the voice output!
A very important resource for Afrikaans AAC is Grid 3. All elements of this software title have been translated into Afrikaans, and it is the first symbol communication software to be available in Afrikaans. For literate users, the chat options include Afrikaans word prediction. Add the locally developed male or female Qfrency Afrikaans synthesised voices, and enjoy the authentic Afrikaans voice output.
Boardmaker Plus is another rich symbol resource, that allows you to design paper-based resources like communication boards, schedules, calenders etc. The symbol library is available in Afrikaans. Boardmaker is also compatible with the Qfrency Afrikaans voices, so you could build symbol sentences and have them read back to you in Afrikaans.
TOBII COMMUNICATOR 5
For people who are literate, and use text to create their messages, Communicator 5 offers word prediction in Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu. As you type, words are offered in these South African languages, making typing and communicating much quicker. And by adding speech output in one of the local Qfrency SA text-to-speech voices, your communication device can now speak these languages too!
ChooseIt! Maker 3
Children with complex communication needs (CCN) are often excluded from curriculum activities, because they can’t speak, or can’t write. Activities thus need to be adapted for these children. One resource that allows the teacher or parent to do just that, is ChooseIt Maker 3. The software allows you to record messages in any language that can be played back to read out questions or instructions. These activities are accessbile via touch, mouse, switch or eye gaze.
Afrikaans speakers now have the opportunity to learn, communicate and write in their first language. All of the above software titles also allow the individual access to the english resources as well, so not only can we thinks, write and speak Afrikaans, we can be bilingual!
Please let us know if you would like more information on any of these resources, I would be delighted to discuss these in detail….in Afrikaans!