AAC Teacher Coordinator Role
This role has built up around the needs of disabled students in mainstream schools who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). AAC is the use of either electronic or paper based communication systems instead of writing or speaking. It might involve pointing to objects, photographs, pictures, symbols, words or letters and numbers. The AAC user might point with a finger, fist, their eyes, a head mouse, via switches or with assisted scanning. In assisted scanning a communication partner asks a series of questions to arrive at the message that the AAC user is wishing to give.
Using AAC to write and to communication is slower than general day to day writing and communicating. This means that students who use AAC need significant adjustments made to their access to the curriculum. Each student is different and one of the coordinator roles is to be able to perceive the individual needs of the student and negotiate their path through mainstream so that their needs are met without disruption to the smooth running of the school and that their access to learning materials is achieved in the least effortful way for the student.
Areas of Responsibility and Specific Tasks:
AAC Training and Adaptation: This involves the AAC Teacher/Coordinator:
· understanding that the way in which AAC is used to access the curriculum will differ from student to student depending on their ability levels and access needs.
· ensuring that teaching assistants are fully trained in the use of AAC to access the mainstream curriculum.
· working with subject teachers in supporting them on how they need to differentiate work using the key learning points.
· support TA’s in creating resources and adaptation using whichever AAC support has been agreed for the individual student. Resources should include presentation of facts (the text book/Power Point/Whiteboard key information in AAC format) and assessment materials (individually differentiated so that the student can demonstrate knowledge with least physical effort necessary).
· Carrying out specific training sessions on a regular basis outside of the normal school routine as and when new technology creates opportunities , existing technology improves or changes or the student’s needs change.
The Coordinator will need to keep up to date with changes in technology and opportunities that such changes might offer the student. Also, changes in the student’s needs in terms of access to technology will need constant monitoring and adjusting as necessary.
Supervising TA’s and the Student in management of the school day:
This might involve:
· Negotiating the number of subjects that the student can manage, the time it takes to complete curricula activities, energy levels etc.
· Creating opportunities for pre-teaching and re-enforcement of key concepts within subjects via study support sessions outside of class if needed.
· Supporting TA’s in providing pre-teaching and re-enforcement activities.
· Training TA’s to adapt learning materials using the appropriate technology.
· Overseeing the adaptation work that TA’s carry out on an ongoing basis.
· Supporting the break and lunch time routine so that there is enough time for eating, personal care needs and socialising.
· Creating opportunities for extra curricula activities.
· Adapting exams, assessment and tests. This task should always be carried out by the AAC teacher coordinator and not delegated to teaching assistants.
· Understanding person centred planning approaches.
· Coordinating circle of support if needed.
· Organising peer mentoring or other mentoring if required.
· Convening (or arranging) Map’s, Path’s, Solution Circles etc. as appropriate.
· Creating communication charts when needed.
· Organising role model visits.
· Organising whole school disability equality training.
Depending on the requirements of the school these might include:
· Preparing paperwork for meetings.
· Taking minutes and distributing them.
· Ensuring Health and Safety policies in relation to students are up to date and available.
· Ensuring that manual handing training for all staff working with student is kept up to date.
· Ensuring that risk assessments are prepared for outings as well as for movement around school.
Liaison and Meetings:
Depending on the requirements of the school tasks might include:
· Regular contact with subject teachers to ensure that they can assess the students and provide information for differentiation.
· Organising timetables of visits from outside therapists.
· Liaising with therapists and amalgamating their advice to incorporate into the student’s day.
· Regular contact with the students’ parents/carers will be essential to ensure that families feel involved in their child’s inclusion.
· Attending and possibly organising Annual Review and IEP meetings.
· Coordination of team meetings which should take place regularly.
Assessment and Exam adaptation (or supervision of):
· Use specialist software and adaptation of paper based assessment as appropriate to ensure that assessment is carried out in a way that ensures the student is not disadvantaged by difficulty with access.
· Use specialist software and adaptation of paper based tests and exams so that the student can access them as independently as possible taking account of the reasonable adjustments guidance that exam boards produce each year.
· Understand the access arrangements that can be applied for in relation to AAC users such as:
o Exam papers being opened in advance.
o Creating accessible access to exam papers.
o Applying for a scribe to enable the use of word prediction and spell checkers.
o Applying for a reader in case voice output reading breaks down.
o Applying for electronic copies of exams for electronic reading where human readers are not allowed but electronic ones are.
o Exam’s taken over up to two or even 3 days (400% - 600% extra time) if needed.
o Justifying access arrangements to exam boards.
o Ensuring that requests to exam boards reflect the student’s normal way of working.
· Explaining assessment arrangements to teachers.
· Able to explain why adjustments create a level playing field rather than an unfair advantage.
· Being able to adapt and carry out adapted assessments and report results.
NB all reasonable adjustments access arrangements for exams noted above are subject to approval from the relevant exam board. Ensuring that internal tests are always carried out using the student’s optimum and most independent access will support negotiations with exam boards.