Fundamentals of the ImPAACT Program (summary)

communication partners


It is widely acknowledged that working with communication partners is a very important part of AAC intervention programmes for people who use AAC (PWUAAC). However it is not always easy for clinicians to structure these interventions and interactions. The ImPAACT (Improving Partner Applications of Augmentative Communication Techniques) program involves a structured, multistep approach to intervention that can be customised for use with a range of communication partners and PWUAAC, in a variety of contexts, and aims to facilitate functional communication for PWUAAC.

Communication partners have been found to use a number of inappropriate communication behaviours in interactions with PWUAAC. The program tries to overcome this by; selecting appropriate targets for communication partners which are linked to the AAC users' targets, helping effective instructional techniques to be used and structuring training programmes for communication partners.

What was the aim of the study?

This paper describes two elements of the communication partner instruction programme, instructional techniques and structuring interventions.

What did the authors do?

The set of five skills taught to communication partners of children who use AAC are discussed, these include technique to prompt communication and to reinforce communication attempts by PWUAAC. Examples of the 'Read, Ask, Answer' and 'Read, Ask, Answer, Prompt' strategies are given.

The authors also report on five teaching, or instructional techniques used within the ImPAACT program to develop the skills and confidence of communication partners in using the techniques.

What did they find?

Links are given to several other papers which give more detailed findings about the effectiveness of the ImPAACT program. However it is reported that the program was found to lead to improvements in both the PWUAAC's communication skills and the communication partners' ability to use the targeted strategies. The changes for PWUAAC included; increased turn-taking, a wider range of vocabulary used and increased length and complexity of messages.


This paper refers only to children who use AAC, further research is needed into ImPAACT's use with adults who use AAC

Things you may want to look into:

Effects of parent instruction on the symbolic communication of children using augmentative and alternative communication during storybook reading

The Effect of Aided AAC Modeling on the Expression of Multi-Symbol Messages by Preschoolers who use AAC

American speech-language-hearing association conference, Partner Instruction in AAC: Strategies for Building Circles of Support (external link)

Teaching Partners to Support the Communication Skills of Young Children who use AAC: Lessons from the ImPAACT Program (pdf 344KB, external link)

Added to site October 2014