The AAC market cards were created in response to a desire from the families that their children be able to participate in a typical activity for Ghanaian children: buying food for the family at the market. The AAC market cards have the name and picture of the item the students are to buy for their families. The cards also have the cost; that is how much of the item the family wants the student to buy. How to use the cards has been disseminated through annual professional development retreats so they are now used by students with autism, intellectual disabilities, and cerebral palsy throughout Ghana. The video tutorials are dubbed into several African languages including Swahili, Amharic, Kikuyu, and West African French.
The transcript for this video in English is below:
Hi my name is Cate Crowley. I am a distinguished senior lecturer at Teachers College Columbia University in the program of speech-language pathology.
One of the things I wanted to share with you is what we call the AAC market cards. We’ve found they have become very effective as communication alternatives for these students in their local markets. We started to work with Belinda Bukari who is the head teacher at the Effiduasi Unit School for students with intellectual disabilities and autism.
When we went to Ghana we asked, “What do you want your children to do that they are not able to do?” The parents said, “We want them to be able to buy things for our families in the market. The teachers confirmed that this is a traditional role of a Ghanaian child. So we decided to try to make an AAC communication system. It needed to be able to say what they wanted to buy and how much they wanted to spend. In the market we noticed that goods were sold in lots of 20 pesewa, 50 pesewa, and one Cedi.
We created market cards that look like this. This is a 20 pesewa pawpaw card. We would have two other cards in the set, pawpaw for 50 pesewa and pawpaw for one Cedi. Then we laminate them with clear packing tape. So you can see it is very low tech, but it works as well as anything. Of course we did role playing in the classroom before we went. So, the parents give the children what they want- 20 pesewa of pawpaw, 50 pesewa of rice- and the children go to the market.
Initially the market women were a little hesitant about having children with obvious disabilities buy their food. But we heard one of the market women say in Twi, “If these Americans can work with our children then certainly we can.”
When we go to the market with them now, the women know the children by name and the children are comfortable there.
For me it is an example of really good assessment of what functional communication is needed and then how to provide it in a way that integrates students with disabilities into their own communities.
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