SGD Issue Is More Than Technology Current actions by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services impacting clients who use speech-generating devices focus on technology. ASHA’s fundamental argument should be based on the language needs of the individual, not the technology that is used. The term “speech-generating device” is a misnomer for what augmentative and alternative ... Inbox
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Inbox  |   December 2014
SGD Issue Is More Than Technology
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  • © 2014 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
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Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Practice Management / Inbox
Inbox   |   December 2014
SGD Issue Is More Than Technology
The ASHA Leader, December 2014, Vol. 19, 6. doi:10.1044/leader.IN1.19122014.6
The ASHA Leader, December 2014, Vol. 19, 6. doi:10.1044/leader.IN1.19122014.6
Current actions by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services impacting clients who use speech-generating devices focus on technology. ASHA’s fundamental argument should be based on the language needs of the individual, not the technology that is used. The term “speech-generating device” is a misnomer for what augmentative and alternative communication interventions provide. Individuals seeking funding for an SGD have severe communication disorders. Simply providing speech-output technology does not recognize or address the full and complex nature of a communication disorder.
SLPs have two choices. We can accept restrictions that limit SGDs to one-on-one communication, taking us back to technology of 1979. Accepting this approach implies that we are willing to be called “speech pathologists” or “technology pathologists” and leaves behind the proud day when we added “language” to our professional titles. Or, we can choose to advocate for solving the real problem. The issue is not about iPads, tablets or one vendor’s technology over another’s devices. We can choose the language and communication position and tell the story of: the complexity of disorders that are lifelong, temporary, acquired or degenerative; the AAC interventions and variable decisions available when people cannot communicate across various activities of daily living; and the knowledge, skills and clinical experience of the SLP that are needed to achieve the highest possible quality life for the most vulnerable individuals with communication disorders. Let’s choose wisely!
Katya Hill, Pittsburgh

Thank you for your reminder of the importance of the SLP’s clinical judgment regarding a patient’s communication needs. The term “speech-generating device” is used by Medicare and many other payers to distinguish the electronic, speech-producing devices from other AAC options. ASHA continues to work for legislative or regulatory language to ensure access to clinically appropriate devices that comply with the definition of “durable medical equipment” and that meet the needs of vulnerable Medicare patients.

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December 2014
Volume 19, Issue 12