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AAC Resources – Tapping into the Versatility of YouTube

We are always on the lookout for AAC resources to make learning fun for communicators. While some resources are labor intensive to create, some may be a bit expensive to access. That said, there are many unlikely AAC resources in our everyday world. We may not recognize or tap into these much.

One of the most inexpensive and versatile AAC resources is YouTube. You should harness the potential of YouTube videos and add it to your arsenal of AAC resources. Avaz’s resident SLP Nayantara has put together this handy guide to help you do this!

YouTube Videos as AAC Resources

All of us watch a lot of videos on YouTube. It could be on the YouTube app itself or forwarded to us by friends and family. So, why not add AAC modelling to this video watching time?

For those people who are not already familiar with YouTube, it is an online video sharing and social media platform. One can access videos about various topics and these videos cater to the interests of all age groups. So it’s a treasure trove of videos for our AAC users that would motivate them to begin communicating. 

At the end of reading this article, we hope you are able to –

  1. Understand what type of YouTube videos you can use as AAC resources.
  2. Get ideas about what you can teach using those videos. 

Targeting Communication Functions

You can use videos to teach and practice a variety of communication functions. Before you watch the video with your AAC user, try to watch it once on your own. By doing this you can be certain it is safe and appropriate for them. It will also help you plan and think about what words you would like to model while watching it. Here are some examples of communication functions you could target: 

Commenting

You can use cooking or baking videos and share comments on what you think about the final product. Model sentences like “Oh that looks so YUMMY” or “Those chips are so CRISPY”. You can also comment on a variety of topics.  Example: Short videos from the Tasty Recipes channel is a great place to start looking for cooking videos https://www.youtube.com/c/tastyrecipes

Requesting

You can teach the AAC user to ask for a video of their choice. This could be a cartoon, a song or even a movie clip. You can also use the ‘search with voice’ feature on YouTube (if their AAC can produce a voice output). This will equip your AAC user to independently request for a song.

Example: YouTube has a whole section for songs if music is your AAC user’s video of choice https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-9-kyTW8ZkZNDHQJ6FgpwQ

Expressing the beginning and end of an activity

Watching videos is a great time to practice activity transition words. These include words like ‘MORE’ and ‘STOP’. They help the AAC users understand and express their need to continue watching videos. They also learn to express that they want to stop and move on to a different activity

Social Communication

A great way to learn about social communication is by watching how it’s done. Social communication includes greeting, small talk, managing misunderstandings and having conversations. This can be watched easily through a YouTube video. A simple search for the skill you want to teach should reveal to you a whole set of videos. These include both real-life and animated videos. Depending on the language levels of your AAC user you could teach a more complex function.

Example: You can find videos that demonstrate and teach what are appropriate and inappropriate social conventions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMYOQkUkATQ&list=PLVZh-3ewCElIPxjUynwfYoAt5vsG-t-gY&index=5

Sharing

You could watch a short story video and get the AAC user to retell the story after.

Example: Wordless animated videos are great for such tasks and a good set of videos can be found here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc6NCp8iAPDa4dBRHY4E5uvuqNcYe8AXX

Using Videos in Home Practice

Here are some reasons why watching YouTube videos works well as a home practice activity: 

  • You can get the whole family involved. During your nightly family TV time you can watch videos. Then, practice using AAC together to chat about the video.
  • Easy access. All the people in the AAC user’s life can access and use videos to help with practice. This could be the teachers at school or extended family members at their homes. 
  • Easily adaptable. You can watch videos during story book reading time. Or you can act out parts of the video while watching it. You can even have a song or dance party along with the videos. If just watching a video becomes boring, you can always add to it in these ways. 

YouTube Features to Support AAC Practice

When you begin modelling with a YouTube video of your AAC user’s choice, you may need to make some tweaks to make the video watching process smooth and easy for them. Some of YouTube’s features that helps during AAC practice are: 

  • Pause You can always pause the video whenever you need, model, have a chat and then continue playing the video
  • Watch again– Some users may need to watch a video multiple times for better understanding. You can hit the ‘watch again’ button and keep the videos going 
  • Playlist– You can select your user’s favorite videos to create a Playlist. In this way you have easy access to a personalized list of videos. Plus, you do not have to waste time searching for each one while modelling. 
  • Playback speed You can adjust the speed of the video. This helps the learner with processing the information better. For example, if the speaker in the video is speaking too fast, you can reduce the playback speed. This will help your AAC user to better engage with the video. 

Now you are all set! Go ahead and start modelling and talking about videos with your AAC user 🙂

WRITTEN BY

Nayantara Nambiar, MSP, BASLP
Speech Language Pathologist

Trained in India and Australia, I am passionate about supporting people with communication and swallowing difficulties. Equipped with experience in Rehabilitation, School and Early Intervention settings, I strive to provide a holistic intervention approach tailor-made for my clients and their families.

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