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DynaVox Mayer-Johnson is the leading provider of communication solutions and educational tools designed to help individuals with communication challenges and learning difficulties. These tools can help children with autism communicate with their families at home, actively participate in the classroom and have the ability to gain meaningful employment as adults.

Copyright © 2013 DynaVox Systems LLC. All rights reserved.

We can help At DynaVox Mayer-Johnson, we strive to improve communication and interaction for individuals with intellectual disabilities by providing them with the tools needed to develop language and literacy skills, make choices, speak their minds and participate in life to the fullest.

We support individuals with intellectual disabilities with products that address several key areas of need, including:

communication and language development


Social Interaction positive behavior supports

DynaVox Mayer-Johnson is the leading provider of communication solutions and educational tools designed to support children and adults with complex communication needs and learning challenges. These tools can help individuals with intellectual disabilities communicate with their families and friends, as well as participate in the classroom or work setting.



Intellectual disability

Intellectual Disability and communication What is communication?

What is self expression?

Communication is the process by which one person gives information to or receives information from another person. It is through communication that we express our thoughts and ideas, learn new things and build relationships with others. Communication can be spoken, but it can also take on other forms such as sign language, writing or using a common set of symbols (Beukelman and Mirenda, 1998). Communication can also be in the form of facial expressions, behavior, body language, or through the use of a communication device.

Communication is also about expressing who you really are as

communication is

communication is

sign language


a person. It’s about expressing your individuality and having the ability to show people your unique personality, beliefs, feelings and ideas. Expression is a creative act that gives each of us a voice and defines our unique self to those around us.

True expression requires the right tools at the right time in order to be successful.

For many individuals with intellectual disability, self expression and social connections with others can be challenging for both the individual and their communication partners. Symptoms range from very mild to severe. Possible signs and symptoms of these challenges may include: •

Delayed speech or difficulty speaking.

Difficulty expressing needs and wants.

Trouble understanding social rules.

Difficulty understanding the consequences of their actions.

Although challenges will vary from person to person, with the appropriate supports, self-expression and reaching one’s fullest potential is possible for all individuals with cerebral palsy.

communication is

“Self expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment.” Pearl S. Buck

communication is

communication is

a device



What is augmentative and alternative communication? Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can include any strategy, in addition to speech, used to express thoughts, needs, wants and ideas. Examples of common AAC strategies might include: •

Sign language.

Picture communication boards or books.

AAC gives children the visual information that can increase their understanding in any situation.

Communication devices that speak messages in response to the user’s selections.

Many AAC strategies use picture symbols, letters, words and phrases to present messages needed to talk about objects, people and places. Children and adults with communication challenges can use AAC to supplement their existing speech or replace speech that is not functional.

AAC for real-life interaction AAC can be used in any environment where communication is difficult. AAC not only helps the individual communicate their messages, but also gives them visual information that can increase their understanding of the situation. For example, showing the individual a communication page with pictures of clothing items might help them to better understand the process of getting dressed and allow them to actively participate in the activity. While the individual may have multiple ways to communicate their needs and wants, having access to a communication device will allow them to expand their thoughts and learn new words along the way.

Adult user: clothing

Child user: Today’s Schedule



Intellectual disability

Who can use AAC? Anyone with limited speech Any individual who is nonverbal, or who has limited speech, can benefit from the use of AAC. It is never too early or too late to introduce AAC. Children who do not have the ability to communicate can potentially fall behind in developing receptive and expressive language skills. Adults who are unable to effectively communicate can become isolated. AAC is often considered for children with intellectual disability who do not develop speech in the traditional way, or experience significant delay in their communication development. It may be considered for adults who need a way, to express themselves more independently and/or appropriately. With AAC devices, people with intellectual disability can: •

Develop language skills, both expressive and receptive.

Increase opportunities for communication.

Communicate appropriately.

Actively engage in communication.

Individuals with ID Gain greater understanding when visual supports are present.

AAC Devices Can... Present vocabulary, schedules and task lists in very visual and dynamic ways.

Individuals with ID Understand better when information is broken down and delivered in smaller amounts.

Communicate more complex concepts than their current methods of communication might allow.

AAC devices give individuals living with intellectual disability a voice and provide them with the tools they need to communicate with the world around them.

Individuals with ID Understand language that is specific.

AAC Devices Can... Deliver information (e.g., stories that support social skills development) step-by-step, giving the individual time to comprehend the information before moving on to the next step.

AAC Devices Can... Manage a large amount of activity-specific vocabulary to support communication in the home, school, workplace and community.

We know that individuals with intellectual disability can and do learn new skills – including those that allow them to be successful users of symbol and text-based communication systems.1



Why should AAC be used to support individuals with Intellectual Disability? To enhance communication The primary goal of using AAC strategies is to enhance communication, not to replace or inhibit the existing communication skills of the individual. AAC users continue to use their natural communication skills (e.g., verbalizations, facial expressions, gestures, etc.) in addition to an AAC device. AAC devices help individuals with intellectual disability express themselves, increase social interaction with others, support academic and/or work performance, and enhance feelings of self-worth. AAC intervention strives to determine the communication, behavioral and social needs of the individual, identify the individual’s strengths and match those strengths to possible AAC solutions.

To support learning and participation While there are many choices available regarding AAC devices, it is important to consider all of the things that make an AAC system appropriate for an individual with intellectual disability.

Jimmy USES the Maestro TO QUICKLY talk about a school field trip Jimmy is eight years old and has Down syndrome. He loves animals, school, and rocking out while playing Guitar Hero on

For individuals with intellectual disability, an AAC device should:

he didn’t engage with other students. After all, none of them knew sign language and that was Jimmy’s primary method of

Increase participation in the community, home, classroom or work setting

communication. Near the end of that year, Jimmy got a DynaVox

Address IEP and/or personal goals

way - a way that didn’t depend upon the other students knowing

Support timely and interactive communication Provide meaningful messages to share with the communication partner (e.g., parent, sibling, teacher, coworker, etc.) Support language and literacy learning through a robust and structured language system Encourage successful day-to-day interaction Be appropriate for the individual’s age and communication ability level Provide positive behavioral supports


his Wii. When he started first grade in an inclusive classroom,

Maestro and began learning to communicate in a new, dynamic another language system. Now in second grade, Jimmy is actively engaged in learning and communicating with his peers. His teacher reports that Jimmy enjoyed giving an oral report about a recent field trip to the zoo almost as much as he enjoyed the field trip itself!


Intellectual disability


What solutions are available to help improve communication skills? AAC devices such as the Maestro, Xpress, M , Vmax+ and EyeMax are designed to meet the broad range of needs and abilities that individuals with intellectual disabilities possess. By combining cutting-edge language research with powerful technology, DynaVox has created InterAACt, the most complete language framework available on AAC devices today. Included on all DynaVox AAC devices, InterAACt is exclusive to DynaVox products, and encourages language and literacy development, social interaction and participation in home, community, school and work settings.

M3: •


A little bit about our devices

The M3 is a great start for those just starting on their communication journeys and supports communication at home, school and work and in the community.

Photos can be imported onto buttons or backgrounds to provide concrete representations of people, places and situations. Durable, rugged magnesium case stands up to the impact of daily life

Vmax+: •

Vmax+ with its dual core processor delivers the power you need to use multiple applications. Supports a wide-range of selection methods, including touch, scanning, joystick, Morse code and eye tracking (when used with the EyeMax). Integrated infrared capabilities allow users to control common household appliances such as televisions, DVD players, thermostats and lamps equipped with infrared remote controls or X-10 controllers. Stay connected using the onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.

EyeMax: •

Maestro: •

The Maestro is sleek and lightweight, weighing only 2.75 pounds (slim battery).

Allows Mestro* and Vmax+ users to access the device and make selections simply by blinking or dwelling on the desired area of the screen. Supports rapid communication while minimizing the fatigue that is sometimes associated with other eye tracking systems. The EyeMax maintains calibration as long as the individual’s abilities remain unchanged. Should calibration require adjustment, an alarm can be programmed to alert a caregiver.

The built-in camera allows you add your own pictures to create photo albums and stories. The extended battery option offers 9.5 hours of power for all-day use. The Maestro is built tough with the magnesium case, spill resistant screen and port protectors.

Xpress: •

Small and ultra-portable, the Xpress weighs only 1.7 pounds. Durable, rugged magnesium case stands up to the impact of daily life.

Built-in calendars can help keep kids and adults on task.

Share photographs with easy digital picture importing.

Picture Communication Symbols™ and words allow children to participate in everyday activities.

For Maestro devices shipped after



Structured yet flexible Language is the foundation of communication and expression. In order to be truly useful and meaningful, language must have a framework and structure. It must be more than a random collection of words and phrases. It must be appropriate for the communicator, meaningful to the recipient and relevant to the environment with in which the communication is occurring. It should support communication and language development. It is because of this principle that DynaVox created the InterAACt

Efficient and precise Say what you need to say quickly and say it in your own words. InterAACt provides the words and messages that individuals need to participate with peers in the classroom and/or the work


language framework.

Real-life communication Individuals can communicate right away in any situation.

Familiar and natural InterAACt presents language in a familiar format using real words for everyday environments.

Flexible Communication needs are met both now and later. With InterAACt, individuals can learn how to use new words everyday. As language and literacy grows, the DynaVox device will grow with them.



Intellectual disability


Communication ability levels InterAACt meets the needs of children with intellectual disabilities by providing the messages needed to say what they want, how they want and when they want! InterAACt will also support language and literacy growth, and strives to provide the appropriate vocabulary needed for successful interaction for individuals of all ages and abilities, including individuals who are:

Emergent An Emergent Communicator: •

Benefits from the support of communication partners (eg., parents, teachers, siblings, etc.). Is beginning to use simple and concrete symbols. (e.g., dog, cookie, etc.).

Chris Uses his Maestro to better understand cause and effect. Chris sometimes has difficulty relating one action to another. To better help him understand how events go together, his teacher and mother program helpful “if-then” situations into his Maestro to help him better understand how one action, event or situation is related to another.

Communicates best in familiar or motivating activities.

Context-Dependent A Context-Dependent Communicator: •

Uses symbols spontaneously to communicate basic needs and wants, and is starting to understand more abstract symbols (e.g., hot, beautiful, etc.). Is beginning to combine two or more symbols to express more unique ideas.

Is beginning to develop basic literacy skills.

Independent An Independent Communicator: •

Has literacy skills that are on par with same-age peers. Is able to talk about a broad range of age-appropriate topics in flexible ways.

Lily Is beginning to combine two or more symbols to express unique ideas. Lily loves to play dress up. With her DynaVox Maestro, she can tell her friends whether she wants to be a princess or Superman. She can even pick out the items that she’d like to wear from the dress up clothes box. And when everyone is dressed up, Lily can even take photos of them in their costumes!

Combines single words, spelling, phrases and complete sentences to create routine and unique messages.

InterAACT supports communicators at all levels. Each page set builds in complexity as the individual’s language skills develop. The tools and communication pages needed to support these transitions are always available within InterAACt. Each page set builds on previous experiences to support higher-level language and communication skills.

Mike To review a complete list of characteristics for each communication ability level, download the InterAACt framework guide at interaact

Uses his Vmax+ to further his communication and literacy skills. Mike has been a proficient communicator for many years. However, previously he used sign or symbol-based communication books to get his message across. With the DynaVox Vmax+ he is taking his communication to the next level as he begins learning the basic foundations of reading and writing.


InterAACt and positive behavior supports Supporting positive behavior Behavior is a form of communication. For some individuals with intellectual disability, behavior may be the only means they have to communicate a need or frustration. Research tells us that individuals with intellectual disability will communicate using the most effective and efficient means possible.

Using Stories to Teach Social Skills can help individuals with intellectual disability understand challenging social information. By presenting this information in a way that is easily understood, the individual will better comprehend both the situation and expectations. While the goal is not to change behavior, improved understanding can certainly result in positive behavior changes.

Visual supports such as pictures and charts have been found to be very helpful for individuals with intellectual disability, and can be used throughout the day to provide information that supports verbal instructions or expression. Greater comprehension helps to ensure that details are not skipped and gives the individual the tools necessary to communicate about the given situation, and may decrease challenging behaviors.

Real-life examples of positive behavior supports Schedules and Calendars are used on the communication device to present the abstract concept of time in a concrete, visual way and present events, activities, tasks, etc. in the order in which they will take place. The purpose of a schedule or calendar is to help individuals understand sequence and time. These tools can also be used to talk about past or future events.

Story to Teach Social Skills

Visual Rules are a visual depiction of what is expected in an environment or activity. Visual rules may also depict what will happen if that expectation is not met. The purpose of a visual rule is to support positive and appropriate behavior by providing clear and concrete representation of the expectations.

Visual Rule



Intellectual disability

InterAACt and social interaction Supporting social participation Communicating during social situations may be challenging for individuals with intellectual disability because they may be unable to draw on vocabulary appropriate to the situation, or become frustrated because the communication partner is unable to understand what they are trying to convey.

Quickfires are quick messages that can be used to initiate and maintain conversations in any situation.

DynaVox communication devices offer access to vocabulary and strategies that support social participation in school, work and community settings. These tools support social skills development by giving individuals with intellectual disability the words and preprogrammed scripts they need to interact in an appropriate social manner.

Real-life examples of social interaction supports Digital Photographs can be imported into the device to support conversations about people and events that are important to the individual. Related communication messages can be programmed to encourage interaction and information sharing.

Quickfires Topic Messages are pre-programmed conversational messages and questions that can be used in everyday situations or environments.

My Phrases

Digital Photos


InterAACt and education How can DynaVox AAC devices with InterAACt be used in educational and work settings? During a typical day, individuals with intellectual disabilities spend time in multiple settings. A student may spend time in a classroom, on a playground and in the cafeteria. Individuals in a work setting may spend time at a work station, in the lunchroom or riding public transportation. Adults enrolled in a day program may spend time in an art room, the kitchen and the library. It is important to provide the necessary communication tools so that each individual can participate to the fullest extent possible – regardless of where they spend their time. InterAACt provides the vocabulary to promote functional communication, language and literacy development related to school- and work-specific activities. The ultimate goal is to increase participation and learning in all environments.

Reading •

Material can easily be added to the AAC device and text can be read aloud to the individual. Symbols added to the text can support beginning readers and those with limited literacy skills.

• • •

Snack or Lunch Time •

Snack is a great time to teach choice-making and social skills.

• • •

Mailing workshop

Math Classroom

Real-life examples of communication for learning Calendar Time •

Allows students to participate in songs, stories and learning about the calendar and weather during group activities. Adults can use this same tool to participate in planning for work and social events, and to learn about transportation schedules, etc.


Content provides simple calculators, numbers, shapes (for sequencing), and addition, subtraction and multiplication practice pages.


Intellectual disability Art

News for Home/News for School •

The device provides opportunities to request supplies, choose colors and comment to others.

News pages allow individuals with intellectual disability to share information about their day with others.

• • • • •

Mayer-Johnson The Boardmaker Software Family provides the necessary tools to download or create print materials and interactive activities to support the classroom curriculum.

With Boardmaker Studio, you can: •

Create thousands of activities with pre-made templates and instantly connect with users on

With Boardmaker, you can: •

Create valuable printed materials like communication boards, sequences and schedules.

With Boardmaker Plus, you can: •

Transform your print materials with sound, animation and video.

MIRIAM uses a variety of tools to live a full life. Miriam uses an Xpress to talk with friends and family and read her original stories to children at her local library. She gives each child a “book” of the story created using Boardmaker Studio and the Picture Communication Symbols™ that are included.


Common Questions About Using AAC Devices With Individuals With Intellectual Disability

How will an AAC device help my loved one or client? AAC devices can help individuals to communicate more effectively, increase independence and self-confidence, and reduce frustration and negative behavior.

Will an AAC device replace the other means of communication? No, an AAC device augments, or adds, to the individual’s natural communication methods to improve intelligibility or effectiveness.

When is the right time to get an AAC device?

It is never too early or too late to investigate AAC device options. The earlier that the AAC device is introduced, the earlier the individual can begin learning how to use it and reap the benefits that it provides. AAC devices can be used successfully by anyone regardless of age!

How do I select the most appropriate communication device? A speech-language pathologist (SLP) will perform an evaluation to determine if an AAC device is appropriate. As part of the evaluation, the SLP will compare a variety of AAC devices to determine those which will best meet your immediate and future communication and access needs. Your SLP may suggest that you trial several different devices before a final decision is made.

How are AAC devices paid for? AAC devices can be paid for in a variety of ways, including Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance providers. Some people turn to not-for-profit organizations that work to provide AAC devices for individuals who do not qualify for or do not have access to funding. DynaVox assigns a funding specialist to assist you throughout the funding process. To learn more, visit www. or call 1-866-DYNAVOX.

Does someone on the care team have to be a technology expert to be successful with an AAC device? DynaVox has a team of dedicated professionals to help you every step of the way. Our commitment to an individual’s success with our devices goes far beyond hardware and software and includes support that begins with our dedicated sales consultants and includes expert technical support representatives, knowledgeable funding specialists and no-cost device training and implementation assistance. Collaboration is the key to communication success.

What will happen if the communication device gets broken?

DYNACARE Every DynaVox device includes a one-year, all-inclusive DynaCare Certified Unlimited Guarantee™. It provides coverage, free-of-charge, for repair or replacement of parts, labor and return shipping on: •

All hardware repairs to the base unit

Memory card (where applicable)

Battery (one year from the date of shipment)

Extended service contracts are also available on a year-by-year basis, or in multi-year packages.



Our Commitment

Intellectual disability

Visit Us Online Our commitment to individuals with Intellectual Disability We are committed to helping individuals with intellectual disability enjoy their relationships with family and friends while giving them the tools they need to continue to develop meaningful connections with others. DynaVox offers a comprehensive network of resources that will support you through the entire process of obtaining and using a DynaVox AAC device. You can count on DynaVox to support you with: •

Our website is designed to help guide you through your search for communication solutions. Visit and to learn more about our products, resources and available services. Need assistance? To find help in your area, please visit and enter your zip code, or call 1-866-DYNAVOX, to speak with your local DynaVox Consultant.

The AAC industry’s largest technical support team to answer your questions. Support is available by phone or online. A team of funding specialists familiar with state and federal funding guidelines to help you navigate the funding process. A local sales consultant who will provide hands-on demonstrations and ensure that your speech-language pathologist has the equipment necessary to complete a full AAC evaluation. Many local and online training opportunities and implementation resources. Communication software designed to support your current and ongoing communication and access needs.

Our commitment to SLPs, teachers and other professionals Our goal is to provide the tools you need so support individuals with intellectual disability. We honor your commitment to helping each individual that you serve communicate to his or her fullest potential, and want to help you work effectively and efficiently toward that goal. DynaVox provides SLPs and other professionals with the following resources: •

Funding specialists to help streamline the funding process. Local consultants to provide hands-on demonstrations and offer support during evaluations.

Evaluation equipment to complete the AAC assessments.

Local and online trainings.

Implementation resources in the form of instructional videos, data collection forms and planning worksheets.

DynaVox can help you with the funding process by assigning a funding specialist who is knowledgeable about your state’s specific funding requirements.


solutions 15

The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities


Intellectual disability

The ARC programs/pcpid/

Department of Health and Human Services / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Intellectual Disability

Understanding Intellectual Disability and Health dd/ddmr.htm

Additional Resources:

National Down Syndrome Society training/toolkit/

References: Beukelman, D & Mirenda. P. (2005). Augmentative and alternative communication: Support for children and adults with complex communication needs. Baltimore MD: Paul Brookes Publishing Co. Cafiero, J. M. (2008). Your child with autism: when is augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) an appropriate option? Exceptional Parent April 1, 2008. Accessed at on 11/19/2008. Cafiero, J., Acheson, J., & Zins, J. (2007) Autism spectrum disorders and augmentative and alternative communication: from research to practice. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Division 12 Millar, D., Light, J., and Schlosser, R. (2006). The impact of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention on the Speech Production of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: A Research Review. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49, 248-264.

connect with us All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of DynaVox Systems LLC. Copyright protection claimed includes all forms and matters of copyrightable material and information allowed by statutory or judicial law or hereafter granted, including without limitation, material generated from the software programs which are displayed on the screen such as screen displays, menus, etc.

2100 Wharton Street • Suite 400 • Pittsburgh, PA 15203 1.866.396.2869 • 150169 2/13 US,CA,UK

The cost of a device may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. Call 1-866-DYNAVOX for more information, or visit to find your DynaVox Sales Consultant.

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