Why do we play games?
We like to learn new skills and test ourselves against
We can enjoy being with people without the need to
keep a conversation going.
We can build relationships with people with whom we
have little in common.
We learn more when we are having fun.
Why use games for AAC
Games provide scripts for social interaction.
Participants have repeated, predictable opportunities to
practice target language.
Games offer a safe environment in which to model and
practice a variety of language functions:
Encouraging and supporting others
What do you want to play?
A GOOD AAC GAME IS:
Full of many kinds of communication opportunities!
Challenging for all participants,
Accessible for all participants,
Related to IEP objectives
Advantages of popular games
They teach a schema that students can apply at home,
Everyone plays BINGO, Hangman, guessing games,
barrier games and card games throughout the life span.
They provide exposure to popular culture “what
everyone else is doing” (playing, watching).
E.g., Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, Deal or No Deal
It’s easier to adapt a good game then it is to invent one!
Some things to consider:
Make it bigger
Put handles on it
Stabilize it (with putty or Velcro)
Make it 3-D
Playability: AAC users need more time.
Sensory / Cognitive Access
Real objects may easier for some playersto see and interpret
Less is more—reduce clutter!
Make the game more relevant, understandable, to players
with limited world knowledge.
Accessing “Kill the Clown”
For choosing letters match the
modality to the student’s
spelling ability and physical
•For making comments, asking
questions, use each student’s
typical mode of
•Help the players succeed by
ordering the letters by
frequency of use and excluding
letters like “x.”
Spin the spinner!
Speaking Dynamically Pro (Mayer-Johnson Co.)
Spin the spinner!
By Canfield & Locke
All Turn It Spinner
Dedicated devices can randomize!
PASS software for Vantage Lite, Prentke Romich Co.
Activity—Make a game.
Choose a mass market game or a traditional game and
adapt it for your students with severe speech and physical
Or invent your own game!
Explain the rules, object and procedure for playing.
Include in your game protocol everything you will need to
access the physical, visual and communicative aspects of
What kind of language do you want to model?
What are your language /communication goals?
What AAC teaching “tools” can you use?
If possible, play your game.
Make a catapult (optional) to use in this or future games.
Make a “Game Plan”
Name of the game: “Kill the Clown” (based on “Hangman”)
A clown or stuffed animal (use a turkey at Thanksgiving)
Tall wooden blocks, a greeting card, small blocks
A list of letters in order of frequency of use.
A white board, dry erase marker and eraser
Players take turns choosing letters and try to guess the target word before all the blocks fall and kill the clown. The first person / team
to guess correctly is the winner. The winner gets to choose the next word.
What to do on your turn:
Use your (or your partner’s) AAC system to choose a letter, guess a word, and take a guess.
Communication & academic objectives/opportunities:
Practice spelling and reading core words
Practice matching core words
Take non-obligatory conversational turns (i.e., make comments relevant to the game)
Pay attention to peer answers and guesses
Gain attention appropriately to guess the target word
Physical & Sensory adaptations:
Real objects are easier for some students to see.
Bringing the white board around to the players makes it easier to read the words and keep track of what has been guessed.
Students can signal that they are ready to make a guess by gesturing or activating a Step-by-Step Communicator.
Adaptations for relevance and playability:
Limiting targets to the core words makes the game more relevant to AAC users and their objectives.
When students want to use longer words, use a stiffer card so more blocks can be supported.
Limiting words to the core vocabulary on users’ communication systems makes it easier to guess.
Want to make a catapult? They have 100’s
of uses! Can you think of a new one?