Keep AAC germ free during the coronavirus

  • 2 minute read

The COVID-19 pandemic raises risks for people who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). AAC devices may transmit the virus. Extra hygiene practices need to be put in place.

Keep your AAC free from germs

AAC and AAC equipment is often hands on. The AAC device may be touched often by many people, not just the AAC user. AAC can be difficult to use effectively with social distance. This makes most AAC tools at high risk for transferring viruses and bacteria, including the coronavirus.

Disinfect devices

All devices need to be cleaned thoroughly.

In a hospital or other medical environment context, there are valid infection control issues. A hospital may object to you bringing an iPad in. However, the iPad can be effectively disinfected without damage to the device, according to the Journal of Hospital Infection. Howell et al. (2014) demonstrated that Sani-Cloth CHG 2% (chlorhexidine 2%/alcohol 70%) disinfecting wipes are an effective disinfectant and do not damage the iPad.

However, the researchers did not study iPads in protective cases. Remove your iPad from any protective case and disinfect it separately from the iPad itself. Every hospital has an infection control officer or specialist. Ask for help from this practitioner if needed.

For more for in-depth cleaning instructions Apple has released guidance on how to safely disinfect an iPad.

Everyone should take precautions

AAC users also need to rely on others to keep their AAC, germ free. They are dependent on others to wash their hands and take every precaution to prevent the spread of infection.

Support AAC users to have ways to ask or direct others around hygiene practices. Consider making a sign or adding a button that allows the AAC user to tell someone to wash their hands, or clean their device.

Proloquo2Go Coronavirus buttons stop washyourhands cleanmytalker

Ask permission

It is always good practice to ask permission before touching an AAC users device. Now it is crucial if it helps prevent the transmission of viruses.

Model on your own AAC

We often might model on the AAC user’s device. Every person touching the device increases the sharing of germs. To limit this, use your own AAC system and/or a printed Core word board. The less contact with the AAC user’s device, the better.

Keep AAC available

When transmission of viruses and bacteria is a high risk, AAC users may lose access to their AAC.

Now, more than ever, AAC users need access to their AAC. They need to be able to talk about the coronavirus. They need to share their worries and fears.

Keep the AAC free from germs so that access can be maintained.

AssistiveWare is here to support

Our support team and online communities will be available to answer any questions and support you during these difficult and changing times. Please reach out to us.


Howell, et al. (2014). Disinfecting the iPad: evaluating effective methods.
J Hosp Infect. 2014 Jun;87(2):77-83


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