Why we do it
AAC community unites users, family members and professionals using AAC from 2018. We observe scattered assistive technologies practices for communication and advocate for unifying them to national AAC standards.
WHO has undertaken a global initiative to measure access to assistive technology at the population and system level between April 2019 and December 2021. The data were collected using two WHO tools:
- Assistive technology population access indicators, a population-based household survey that measures self-reported use, need, met need, and barriers to accessing assistive technology.
- Assistive technology progress indicators, a government survey measuring system preparedness in terms of governance; legislation; public budget; financing mechanisms; regulations and standards; collaborations and initiatives; service provision coverage; workforce availability; and training.
According to it 62 from 70 conntries that took part in the survey, have AT coverage and legislation for that.
In Ukraine there is still a gap in alternative and augentative communication usage, eyetrackers, communicators, low tech AAC means (cards or communication boards) are not provided and communication needs are not assessed fully in individuals and communities
Access to assistive technology empowers and enables individuals and communities and is a key pre-condition for realization of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Put simply as it goes in Global Report on AT 2022, assistive technology is a life changer.
We relay upon these and others international documents to advocate for alternative and augmentative comminucation and needs assessment for speech assistance in Ukraine.
Evidence and statistics in AAC
The WHO-United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Global Report on Assistive Technology (AT) issued in 2022 reveals that more than 2.5 billion people need one or more assistive products, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, or apps that support communication and cognition. Yet nearly one billion of them are denied access, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where access can be as low as 3% of the need for these life-changing products.
Access to assistive technology for children with disabilities is often the first step for childhood development, access to education, participation in sports and civic life, and getting ready for employment like their peers. Children with disabilities have additional challenges due to their growth, which requires frequent adjustments or replacements of their assistive products.
The positive impact of assistive products goes beyond improving the health, well-being, participation and inclusion of individual users – families and societies also benefit. Pease find Global report on Assistive Technologies 2022 here.
Building a national AAC system
According to the Report above, almost 70 Member States had at least one piece of legislation on access to assistive technology, and at least one ministry or other authority responsible for it. Most countries had a public budget allocated for assistive technology and financing mechanism(s) in place to cover users’ costs fully or partly for AT.
There is still a lack of service provision and trained workforce for assistive technologies and in AAC field in Ukraine. We need national assistive technology regulations, standards or guidelines based on international practice to allow in time access for development support.
National methodic recommendations
As a community, in 2020 -2022 we united users, professionals, NGOs, local communities and government and organised a series of round tables to work out a resolution for a national system of alternative and augmentative communication.
In 2021 Community core team, Marharyta Chaika, Hanna Usatenko, Oksana Kryvonogova made a manual in AAC for educators available online for free. In 2022 started basic online courses for teachers, SLPs and communication partners.
As one of the results in 2022 the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine approved Methodic recommendations in AAC complied by a Community methodist Marharyta Chaika. The document includes experince of many experts of education, NGOs and rehabilitation, as well as parents and users communities. This is a project og AAC Community that lasted for 2 years, included several round tables and resulted in AAC definition and implementation steps description in the official paper:
Resolution: needs assessment and further steps
In 2022-23 we`ve been working on the resolution (Резолюція-КС-30-червня-1 Download in Ukrainian ) for Ukrainian AAC system that is aimed to:
- Enhanse a comprehensive study of national evidence based practice in AAC.
- Evaluate needs in AAC statisticaly and collect information about AT service providers.
- Advocate on a national level fro AAC and provide users with high tech and low tech AAC solutions.
- Trainings for AAC professiocals and families are also needed,
To implement this we collaborate with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, The Ministry of Social Politics of Ukraine, the authorized advisers to the President of Ukraine in children rights, barrier free environment etc.
Current needs in AAC and AT in Ukraine
Research esteemates 0,4-1,2 % of population to need alternative and augmentative communication (Enderby, P., Judge, S., Creer, S. et al. , 2013). After the escalation of war in Ukraine we mostly focus on refugees and temporarly displaced people with speech or communication impairments.
Regarding the Russian war in Ukraine 2014-2022 around two-thirds of Ukrainian children have been displaced since the start of the war as people continue to flee their homes. Around 1-in-5 internally displaced persons in Ukraine have a developmental delay or disability by Unicef data. Families who have members with disabilities often have difficulty evacuating on their own due to barriers to accessing information about evacuation, limited accessibility of roads and limited transportation, and a lack of assistive devices.
A short video about Ukrainian AAC users in the early developmnet in Odessa region
Solutions in emergency for Ukraine
Digital Inclusion. An online tool for communication
Register and try a free online platform and application to assist people in communication. There are more than 300 symbols with sounds for words and simple phrases. This was a community based innovative project supported by Huawei Ukraine in 2020-21. The first AAC digital solition in Ukrainian. Is essential for refugees and people who lost speech because of injury in war. Is widely used among Ukrainians all over the world.
Posters with Dyvogra symbols for safety and evacuation
Since March 2022 our response was to create free downloadable posters with DyvoGra AAC symbols for safe behavior, evacuation or stress management in crises. This is due to the project of NGO “My family” initially supported by the Internation Renessaince Foundation and a crowdfunding at the Ukrainain platform Biggggidea. Within the project DyvoGra team provided images relevant to crisis and made them free online for the development of Ukrainian AAC system.
Assistive technology is important across the lifespan. Access to assistive technology for children with disabilities is often the first step for childhood development, access to education, participation in sports and civic life, and getting ready for employment.
Please see also about our international research and experience exchange, presenting our response practice at international conferences.
- Global report on assistive technology. Geneva: World Health Organization and the United
Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2022. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
- Enderby, P., Judge, S., Creer, S. et al. (1 more author) (2013) Examining the need for, and provision of, AAC in the United Kingdom. Research Report. Communication Matters
- United Nations. 2006. “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” Treaty Series 2515 (December): 3.
- United Nations General Assembly. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). New York: United Nations General Assembly, 1948.