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Augmentative Communication Program

MISSION - The Augmentative Communication Loan Pool serves to loan augmentative/alternative communication equipment, free of charge, to persons diagnosed with ALS who are in need of communicative assistance. The type of equipment to be loaned is based on each personís individual needs as identified through a complete assessment conducted by a certified speech-language pathologist/SLP (not affiliated with the ALSA).  

I.          Criteria for Accessing Loan Pool
The eligibility criteria for accessing the loan pool are as follows:

  • ALS Diagnosis and
  • Living in the Los Angeles, Ventura, or San Bernardino County and
  • Possess renters/homeowners insurance by which the loaned equipment will be covered and
  • Do not possess health insurance to cover the purchase of a device or
  • Has been denied authorization for augmentative communication equipment from his/her health insurance and cannot afford to purchase own AAC equipment or
  • Equipment may also be loaned on an interim basis while waiting for health insurance (i.e. Medi-Cal, Medicare) to purchase equipment. Upon receipt of the equipment purchased by health insurance, the borrowed equipment would be returned to loan pool.

II.          Procedures for Accessing Augmentative Communication Loan Pool Services
PALS or responsible party contacts the Augmentative Communication Loan Pool Director, via telephone or e-mail.

  1. The AAC Director will respond to the inquiries the next business day. Upon discussing the process for qualifying for participation in the AAC program, both the AAC Director and the PALS/or family member contact the appropriate agency to schedule a speech evaluation, if not already conducted, to determine appropriate device.  Insurance coverage possibilities are verified by both the SLP and the AAC Director.
  2. Once the speech evaluation is completed, a written report is submitted to the AAC Director, with specific recommendations for appropriate equipment for the PALS. Upon review of this report, and communication with the SLP, a determination is made regarding the needs of the PALS, and all necessary paperwork is submitted to insurance, if applicable.
  3. If the PALS is not able to obtain the recommended device through insurance or other financial means, then the AAC Director reviews the loan pool inventory list to determine if the recommended device is available. If the device is available, the AAC Director schedules a time to meet with the PALS and family members to deliver the device, or schedule training with a designated trainer for that particular device. If the device needed is unavailable, the AAC Director reviews the budget and determines if the device meets the established criteria for purchasing new equipment.  If the budget permits, a copy of the speech evaluation, along with the written recommendation of the AAC Director is submitted to the Director of Patient Services for approval.
  4. The Director of Patient Services reviews the reports and determines if the request is valid. If denied, the Director of Patient Services will offer alternative solutions.
  5. Once the equipment has been purchased/received, the AAC Director coordinates the delivery of the equipment as well as the signing of the appropriate loan agreement and other pertinent documentation. A copy of the PALS homeowners/renters insurance policy must be provided to the AAC Director before any equipment is to be loaned. The AAC Director then arranges a date for training on the equipment for the PALS and his/her caregiver(s).

III.         Types of Augmentative/Alternative Communication Devices

1.         Dedicated devices - Produce synthesized or digitized speech output. Some, but not all dedicated devices can be interfaced with computers in order to download information. Dedicated devices function solely for face-to-face communication and cannot perform other computer functions. In essence, the person types a novel message or retrieves a pre-programmed message, and the device repeats it for the listener. The following are examples of dedicated devices (but are not limited to the following):

  • LINK, by Assistive Technology, Inc. ( Synthesized Speech Output)
  • LightWriter SL35, by Zygo, Inc. (Synthesized Speech Output)
  • DynaVox 3100, by Dynavox Systems, Inc. (Synthesized Speech Output)
  • Message Mate, by Words +, Inc. (Digitized Speech Output)

2.               Multipurpose devices - Use regular microcomputers, personal computers or laptops in conjunction with special software in order to not only communicate as one would with a dedicated device but to accomplish  tasks one does on a computer (i.e. e-mail friends, access the internet, play games). The following are examples of multipurpose devices (but are not limited to the following):

  • Freedom 2000 Lite, by Words+, Inc.
  • Polyana, by Zygo Industries, Inc.
  • Communicator 3400, by Gus Comm, Inc.

For further augmentative communication equipment information, you may go to: www.aacproducts.org.

How to obtain equipment and evaluations:
Contact Beth Ryan, Augmentative Communication Director at (310) 888-8787 or [email protected] for information.



The ALS Association Greater Los Angeles Chapter • P.O. Box 565, Agoura Hills, CA 91376-0565, Tel: (818) 865-8067
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