Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC)

What is AAC?

Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to the use a variety of modes -- picture boards, speech-generating devices (SGDs), tangible objects, manual signs, gestures, and written communication to enable someone who does not speak or who cannot speak clearly to communicate more effectively.

AAC is augmentative when used to supplement a student’s limited or ineffective speech, and is alternative when used in place of speech for students who are non-speaking or nonverbal.

AAC is a type of assistive technology and is also an important area of practice in speech-language pathology.

AAC is augmentative when used to supplement a student’s limited or ineffective speech, and is alternative when used in place of speech for students who are non-speaking or nonverbal.

AAC is a type of assistive technology and is also an important area of practice in speech-language pathology.

Who needs AAC?

Every student - every person- needs effective ways to communicate. If a student cannot communicate verbally or cannot use vocal speech to make him/herself understood by others, the student probably needs Augmentative/Alternative Communication. This is true, regardless of the student’s diagnosis or disability.

Will AAC inhibit speech development in children?

Many people are concerned that AAC will inhibit speech in children whose speech is delayed. Evidence indicates the contrary. To learn more, see AAC Myths and Realities on the ASHA website, https://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589942773&section=Key_Issues#AAC_Myths_and_Realities

Does AAC have to be technology?

AAC can be divided into two broad categories:

  • Unaided forms of communication include eye gaze, gestures, manual signs, vocalizations, body language, facial expressions and/or existing speech.

  • Aided forms of AAC include electronic or non-electronic items, such as objects, pictures, communication boards/books and speech-generating devices. Aided forms can also be described as no-, low-/light-, or high tech.

Communication is multimodal. Most communicators use a combination of modes to convey their ideas.

Learn more about AAC:
US Society for AAC (USSAAC): https://www.ussaac.org/
AAC Institute https://aacinstitute.org/
Praactical AAC: http://praacticalaac.org/
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Augmentative-and-Alternative-Communication/