Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


SPHY305 Speech Pathology Practice 3B AND SPHY310 Community Development, Public Health and Speech Pathology


ALHT413 Honours Research Project Implementation for Allied Health

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focussed learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

ACU graduate speech pathologists must be prepared to balance the juxtaposition of rapidly changing policy environments and technology with the unchanging values of the dignity of the human person and service to the common good. Adherence to core values and ethics amid significant industry change is essential for effective speech pathology practice in the disability sector and users of multi-modal communication. Throughout the bachelor of speech pathology, students are introduced to core ethics, values, rights and principles fundamental to working with people with a disability as well as theory and practice in the assessment and implementation of multi-modal communication. This unit builds upon this foundation by exploring disability supports and services in contemporary Australia, assessment, modern high-technology alternative and augmentative communication systems, the provision of multimodal communication for specific populations and the integration of rights, vales and ethics and principles of practice when working with usersof multimodal communication at entry level.

This unit aims to provide students with the opportunity to acquire core knowledge and skills in preparation for work with Australia’s disability support system as a speech pathologist and assess, prescribe and implement high-tech multimodal communication options with individuals across the lifespan who have communication difficulties.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe support services and funding for people with a disability and complex communication needs including: government and non-government services, policy and funding; and the role of the speech pathologist within of multi- and interdisciplinary teams (GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Apply knowledge of-tech augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies for people with complex communication needs (GA1, GA5, GA10)

LO3 - Design collaborative assessment and intervention plans that reflect person-centred and evidence-based approaches to the multimodal communication and communicative participation needs of individuals with disability and complex communication needs across the lifespan (GA1, GA3, GA5, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

Review of key concepts critical to clinical practice with people with a disability and users of multimodal communication:

  • Communication as a basic human right
  • Ethical principles, including advocacy and autonomy, central to working in disability and with users of multimodal communication
  • Integration of multimodal communication into the community
  • Social and psychological impact of utilizing multimodal systems – listening to the individual and their supports
  • Principles and best practice in assessment and intervention for Alternative and Augmentative Communication
  • Identifying and understanding the needs and wants of the individual regarding multimodal communication
  • Assessing capacity and suitability of options (cognitive, language, speech, physical and personal considerations)
  • Developing person-centred and functional goals relating to communication and participation
  • Contemporary conceptions and definitions of disability

Multimodal communication needs of specific populations

  • Congenital, developmental, progressive, and acquired communication disorders that may result in an individual utilizing multimodal communication options.
  • Considerations of short-term versus long-term use of multimodal communication.
  • Special considerations for AAC for:
  • Developmental disorders e.g. autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, social communication disorders
  • Acquired disorders e.g. stroke, cognitive communication disorders
  • Progressive disorders e.g. Motor Neuron Disease, Palliative care

• Cultural and linguistic considerations in multimodal communication decision making

The disability support services landscape in Australia

• Government and non-government services available for people with a disability.

• Private practice and disability support services

• Contemporary funding support for people with a disability:

  • Government initiatives
  • Non-government and philanthropic initiatives
  • Private insurance schemes
  • Applying for funding support for speech pathology support and high-tech multimodal communication.
  • Interstate variability.

Working within an inter-professional team to support the individual requiring a multimodal system.

  • The role of the speech pathologist
  • Principles of teamwork in the inter-professional setting
  • The roles of key workers/disciplines including:
  • Social work
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Educational professionals
  • Medical staff
  • Personal carers and allied health assistants.

High-Tech communication:

  • Text based devices;
  • Semantic Compaction Devices;
  • Mobile technologies e.g. iPad)
  • Identification and use of appropriate outcome measures
  • Special considerations for assessment, implementation and outcome measurement.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit flexible, blended learning approach to accommodate the varied placement schedules of fourth year students. Key information and resources will be provided online to enable students to engage with the materials asynchronously and while attending professional practice experiences away from campus.

Additionally, students will participate in interprofessional workshops which will develop their skills in the use of assistive technology and working in an interdisciplinary team. These activities will prepare students to complete industry relevant assessment tasks. Students should expect to complete 150 hours of learning in this unit.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Students in Year Four of the Bachelor of Speech Pathology are working towards entry level competency across all Range of Practice Areas as they prepare to enter the workforce. As a result, assessments in this unit are consistent with tasks that an entry level speech pathologist may be required to complete when working in the disability sector. Reflecting the learning outcomes of the unit, the assessments progressively build in complexity beginning with a descriptive task and work towards a higher level, integrative task. The assessments assume that students are developing entry level skills in CBOS Professional Competencies 1-4,Occupational Competencies 1-7 and Range of Practice Principles 1,2, and 5 that can be transferred to thetasks and topics explored in this unit.

Learning outcome 1 is addressed in assessment task 1. Students will be required to work in small groups to develop an information package for families of children or adults with a disability and complex communication needs. The information package will describe government and non-government services that are available to support people with complex communication needs.

Learning outcome 2 is assessed in Assessment 2. Students are to work individually to prepare and present a poster describing a high-tech AAC device. The presentation will include a description of the intended consumer (using the ICF framework) based on an assessment of the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary components of the AAC system.

The final assessment addresses learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3. This assessment requires students to produce a funding application for a client (adult or paediatric) with a disability and complex needs in communication. The application will include description of an assessment and intervention plan and an appropriate plan for the implementation of a high-tech AAC device.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Disability services information package group task (adult or paed)

Enables students to demonstrate knowledge of funding and services

for people with disability and communicate this information to clients.



CBOS Alignment


4.5, 4.6 5.4,

5.8, 7.4


2.1, 2.3, 4,5


Technology seminar.

Enables students to investigate and assess high-teach AAC.



CBOS Alignment


1.4, 5.6


1.2, 2.1, 4.2

GA1, GA3, GA5, GA10

Funding Application.

Enables students to develop interdisciplinary intervention plans for clients using multimodal communication within the Australian funding context.



CBOS Alignment


1.2, 3.1, 3.4,

3.5, 3.6, 3.7,

5.1, 5.6


1.1, 1.2, 1.3,

2.1, 2.2, 2.3,

3.4, 4.2, 4.3,

4.4, 4.5

GA1, GA3, GA5, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Beukelman, D. R. & Mirenda, P. (2012). Augmentative and alternative communication: Supporting children and adults with complex communication needs (4th ed.). Paul H brookes.

Bloomberg, K., West, D., & Johnson, H. (2004). InterAACtion- Strategies for intentional and unintentional communicators. Communication Resource Centre, Scope.

Lancioni, G.E., & Singh, N.N. (Eds). (2014). Assistive technologies for people with diverse abilities. Springer

Light, J.C., Beukelman, D.R., & Reichle, J. (2003). Communicative competence for individuals who use AAC: From research to effective practice. Paul. H. Brookes.

Madden, B., McIlwraith, J., & Brell, R. (2013). The national disability insurance scheme handbook. Reed International Books.

McVilly, K, R. (2002). Positive Behaviour Support for people with intellectual disability: Evidence-based practice, promoting quality of life. The Australian Society for the Study of Intellectual Disability Inc.

Odom, S.L., Horner, R.H., Snell, M.E., & Blacher, J. (Eds). (2007). Handbook of developmental disabilities.The Guildford Press.

Reichle, J., Beukelman, D.R., & Light, J.C. (Eds). (2002). Exemplary practices for beginning communicators: Implications for AAC. Paul. H. Brookes.

Schlosser, R. (2003). The efficacy of Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Toward evidence –based practice. Elsevier Science.

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