Strategies for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive AAC Practices in Schools


Course Type: Video – 1 1/2 hours

ASHA Course Code: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – 3040

The intersection of AAC and culturally responsive practices is critical for speech-language pathologists working in educational settings. This course explores AAC assessment and implementation through a cultural lens using the SETT (Student–Environments–Tasks–Tools) framework, focusing on family engagement and collaboration with diverse school staff to enhance AAC effectiveness.

Join SLP McKinzee Steve who has spent her career as the AAC specialist serving SLPs and teachers throughout a large urban district as she shares how to successfully implement AAC strategies and create collaboration.

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Additional Information


School Age


1.5 hours


.15 Continuing Education Units


Special Populations



McKinzee Steve, MA CCC-SLP is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist who works on the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) team for a large urban school district. She also works part time as a clinical educator for a small private university. Her experiences include school-based, university-based, and home health speech language pathology for children with speech and language disorders. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Her professional interests include AAC, literacy, bi/multilingualism, and collaborative models of service delivery.

Financial: McKinzee Steve is receiving an honorarium from Bilinguistics for this presentation.
Non-financial disclosures: None

The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) defines Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) as the various communication methods that supplement or replace speech for individuals with significant communication support needs. AAC can be temporary or permanent (ASHA, 2024). Additionally, ASHA describes cultural responsiveness as the practice of recognizing, valuing, and appropriately responding to different cultural variables and diversity dimensions (ASHA, 2024).

The intersection of AAC and culturally responsive practices is critical for speech-language pathologists working in educational settings. Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) highlights that in 2020, 10.3% of public school students were English language learners and 55% of students came from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds (NCES, accessed 2024). Additionally, ASHA reports that more than 2 million people rely on AAC to fully engage in their communication environments (ASHA, accessed 2024). These statistics underscore the imperative for speech-language pathologists to refine their clinical skills to make high quality AAC recommendations that meet the cultural and linguistic needs of diverse populations. This 90 minute session is designed to equip educators, speech-language pathologists, and related professionals with essential strategies for effective AAC assessment and implementation in culturally and linguistically diverse environments.

The session will begin with a review of essential definitions including AAC, culture, cultural responsiveness, and cultural humility. Then, the presenter will guide participants through the process of AAC consideration in school settings using the SETT framework (Zabala, 1990) with an emphasis on strategies to promote authentic participation from families of learners from diverse backgrounds. Participants will be provided with examples of the strengths and limitations of current leading AAC technologies. Finally, the presenter will outline considerations for collaborating with families and professionals in a school environment through collaborative models of service delivery and primary communication partner coaching.

Through interactive discussions, case studies, and practical strategies, this session aims to empower educators and therapists to create inclusive communication environments that respect and integrate the diverse cultural and linguistic identities of their students.

Participants will be able to:
• Define key concepts related to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and cultural responsiveness, explaining their relevance in multicultural educational settings.
• Analyze case studies and real-life examples to identify the strengths and limitations of current AAC technologies in addressing the needs of diverse populations.
• Apply the SETT framework to develop culturally responsive strategies for AAC assessment, emphasizing authentic participation from families of learners from diverse backgrounds.
• Design AAC implementation plans that incorporate collaborative models of service delivery, including vocabulary planning and coaching for primary communication partners, to effectively support students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Time-Ordered Agenda
5 minutes – Introduction and Overview Welcome and session objectives Overview of AAC and cultural responsiveness
15 minutes – Defining Key Terms Review essential definitions: AAC, culture, cultural responsiveness, and cultural humility
15 minutes – AAC Consideration Using the SETT Framework Introduction to the SETT framework (Zabala, 1990) Case Study Example Question examples for culturally responsive parent interviews to determine student, environment, and task information
15 minutes – AAC Tools Examples of current leading AAC technologies Discussion of strengths and limitations in the context of diverse needs Considerations for vocabulary programming
25 minutes – AAC Implementation Collaborative Models of Service Delivery Strategies for collaboration between professionals Considerations for vocabulary planning for languages other than English Coaching for primary communication partners (teachers and parents) Importance of cultural and linguistic considerations in family engagement
15 minutes – Moderated Question and Answer Session

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