Communication Devices in the Preschool Classroom

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Grade Level: Preschool
Subject: Parent Education
Sub-Subject: Communication Devices
Length/Duration: 45 minutes
Technologies Used: PECS, GoTalk, Tech/Speak, Dynavox/Mayer-Johnson, Proloquo2Go

Why are you looking into a communication device for your child?[edit | edit source]

  • As a way to further my child’s communication in and out of the classroom
  • To help my child transition into kindergarten with a consistent means of communication
  • To further their speech development and expand their vocabulary
  • To test it out and see if it’s right for my child

Who can you talk to about this decision?[edit | edit source]

Where do I start?[edit | edit source]

PECS: Picture Exchange Communication System

  • PECS is the first step in creating a communication system for any child. It is considered a low-tech device that is designed around the interests and strengths of each individual child.
  • When PECS is first introduced, actual pictures of objects and foods will be used on the cards to familiarize the child with the communication system and how it works. As the child grows, so will their PECS vocabulary.
  • Once a child has developed an understanding of the PECS communication system, Mayer-Johnson pictures and symbols will be introduced and most actual picture cards will be faded out.
  • The PECS communication system ranges from simple preschool age pictures to complex adult verbs and commands.

What other low-tech communication devices are available for my preschooler?[edit | edit source]


  • Like PECS, GoTalk is a low tech device.
  • The set of GoTalk communication devices ranges from pocket size 6-button devices to lightweight 20-button devices. Each interface has 3-5 “channels” making the device dynamic and useful for many settings. This also lets the device grow with the child.
  • Each GoTalk device is designed to be used by preschool or early elementary aged user.
  • GoTalk devices are great for young kids because of the east use and reasonable price in comparison to the dynamic display devices.


  • The device is a light weight, multi level augmentative and alternative communication device that combine standard direct select communication device with the benefits clear voice output.
  • The Tech/Speak device has real voice audio reproduction.
  • Like the GoTalk, this device is lower in price than most dynamic display devices and can grow with the child.

What are dynamic display devices?[edit | edit source]

  • One of the most attractive features of a dynamic display device is the ability to navigate from screen to screen using programmable software. Typically, clients have a "home page" that acts as a menu for navigating to other screens. Potentially, clients can have a complex system of branching screens, storing vast amounts of vocabulary.
  • Like low-tech devices, dynamic display devices can be basic and only display what is necessary, or can be very extensive devices that give users the option of a full vocabulary everyday words and phrases.
  • These devices can be very costly, and like all technology, will have their share of problems and complications. They range in size, capability and can be tailored for almost all disabilities and capabilities.
  • A new dynamic device interface that has been recently developed is called Proloquo2Go, an iPhone app that performs all the essential functions of most dynamic display devices for a fraction of the price.
  • Dynamic Display Resources

Technology and Literary Resources[edit | edit source]

  • Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart, Article by Bonnie A. Nardi and Vicki L. O'Day
    • This article discusses the response we have as a community to new technologies introduced in our schools, homes and work places. The authors think that if the average person had more involvement or opinion on the new technologies presented to us everyday, we might be more apt to use them to their full extent and actually appreciate their purpose, rather than use them because they make life easier.
    • "When we adopt new technologies, we face uncertainty about how our quality of life may change." This quote from Bonnie A. Nardi and Vicki L. O'Day is the perfect description of adding a communication device to any persons life. Communication devices were created to instill a better quality of life in its users, yet without proper use and education about the technology, the users life is unaffected.
  • Your Child With Autism: When is augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) an appropriate option? Article By Joanne M. Cafiero and Ann Meyer
    • Cafiero and Meyer discuss the language and communication problems that children with autism are most often affected by, stating that "between 33 and 55 percent of individuals with ASD never develop communication skills that are sufficient to meet their most simple daily needs."
    • The article discusses the eligibility for an AAC device, the evidence for the use of the new technology, and the big difference it can make for a child in and out of the classroom.
    • They state the perfect description of what an AAC device is: "Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is any tool, strategy, or technology that compensates for, enhances, expands, or helps develop communication skills."