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There are lots of terms, acronyms and specific language used around assistive technology. Here are some of the frequently used terms. 

AT (Assistive Technology)

AT stands for Assistive Technology and is ‘specialised equipment and technology that “assists” students to access and participate in learning or their enviornment .’(Ministry of Education). 

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AAC - Alternative and Augmentative Communication

AAC means all of the ways that someone communicates besides talking. People of all ages can use AAC if they have trouble with speech or language skills. Augmentative means to add to someone’s speech. Alternative means to be used instead of speech. Some people use AAC throughout their life. Others may use AAC only for a short time, like when they have surgery and can’t talk. (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). 

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NZSL/Key sign

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is an official language in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is the main language of the Deaf community. Sign language conveys meaning through signs on the hands, combined with facial expressions, lip patterns and body language. Key sign uses the signs from NZSL, but alongside spoken words, and follows spoken grammer, not NZSL grammer. 

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Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

PECS is a unique alternative/augmentative communication system to support and enhance functional communication. PECS refers to a specific communication tool, but sometimes people use PECS to mean all kinds of visual communication supports. 

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Visual schedule

A visual schedule can be any illustrated calendar for daily activities and tasks. It can use different types of objects, symbols, photos or images. It can be short or long. Visual schedules are an accessible schedule or calendar which can be individualised for the person. 

Objects of reference

Objects that can be used to represent an activity, person, or place.

Makaton (trademarked key sign training)

Unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate.

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Aided language display

Symbol display where all the relevant symbolised vocabulary for a specific activity is displayed on a single page.

Visual scene display

Picture, photo, or virtual environment that depicts and represents a situation, place or experience.

Social story

Social stories are simple stories that explain to a person how something should be and describes everything that will happen in a specific situation.

Easy read documents

Document providing information that is easy to understand and usually contains words and pictures.

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