3 Easy Steps to make your classroom more inclusive for non-verbal students
1. Projecting the students talker on a SmartBoard is an easy way to include the student in every lesson, plus teach all students the pathways needed to learn communication. Talkers must be taught just as any language needs to be taught, which means teachers must use the students talkers if they want communication to be learned and improved for their student. Many non-verbal students will have an IEP with an alternative page specifically outlining the need to be taught AAC (alternative and augmentative communication), so the teacher need to incorporate this into the students day to day learning.
2. Eye gaze users and new users need lots of help with input, be prepared to use the talker for communication yourself. The student may not respond but continue to use their talkers to help them learn to navigate the system and communicate. Think out loud, use lots of facial expression, notice subtle facial expression of the student, talk through your process of navigation. Eye gaze users might need help to activate buttons since it can be difficult to maintain eye gaze/dwell time long enough to select the button themselves. Being an active communication partner will reduce frustration and help motivate the non-verbal student. The process to use a talker for a non-verbal student is complex and takes considerable working memory and lots of steps, check out this video by Susan Norwell at Rett University explaining the process Modeling - YouTube.
3. Students, peers and friends are the best motivators for communication. Teaching the class how to be good communicators will help include the non-verbal students in the school community, plus it will help spread the work load from the educational assistants and teachers. Encourage the students to use talkers in the classroom (downloading a communication program on multiple iPad in the classroom), or just to feel comfortable using the non-verbal students talker.