Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Resources related to increasing communicative competence with the use of AAC

What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)?

AAC uses a variety of techniques and tools, including picture communication boards, line drawings, speech-generating devices (SGDs), tangible objects, manual signs, gestures, and finger spelling, to help the individual express thoughts, wants and needs, feelings, and ideas. (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2018)

AAC is augmentative when used to supplement existing speech, and alternative when used in place of speech that is absent or not functional. (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2018)

What is an AAC system?

An AAC system is an integrated group of components used to enhance communication. These components include forms of AAC (aided or unaided), symbols, selection techniques, and strategies. (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2018)

The design of an AAC system incorporates each individual's strengths and needs. It incorporates the individual's full communication abilities and may include existing speech, vocalizations, gestures, languages spoken, and/or some form of external system (e.g., Speech generating device). (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2018)

An individual may use multiple modalities or many systems of AAC in combination, allowing for change based on context, audience, and communicative intent. A well-designed AAC system is flexible and adaptable. It allows for changes to vocabulary and mode of access as the individual's language and physical needs change over time. A well-designed system also maximizes the individual's abilities to communicate effectively and efficiently across environments and with a variety of communication partners (Beukelman & Mirenda, 2013). (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2018)

What is core language?

Core words are high frequency words that we use over and over again to communicate. For more information on core language, modeling strategies and ideas, check out this blog post from AssistiveWare on Teaching with Core Words: Building Blocks for Communication.

AAC Resources

Modeling with AAC

What is modeling when using an AAC Device?

Simply put, modeling is showing an AAC user where words are on an AAC device while providing verbal input (speaking key words and phrases). Check out some great tips on modeling with AAC from

Here are some short video examples of a communication partner modeling on an AAC device with an AAC user. Each video includes how to prepare for the activity. 

Reading a Book

Watching TV


Expanding on Your Child's Language When Using AAC

Children who are new to AAC may just use 1 or 2 words at a time while utilizing their device.  We, as communication partners can expand or extend what could be said during a conversation. 

Resources for Programming and Using AAC

Prentke Romich Company (PRC) Device Resources

Tobii Dynavox Device Resources 

Communication Apps

Implementation Resources

  • PrAACtical AAC
    Blog website providing AAC resources and implementation strategies, as well as weekly and monthly featured posts. To get started exploring activities and resources, type "core word of the week" or "literacy" in the "search this website..." dialog box.
  • AssistiveWare's Core Word Classroom 5 minute Fillers
    Resource website with free printable core word displays, one page reference sheets, as well as AAC modeling suggestions for home and school. This website requires you to register with an email address to access their free resources. FCPS staff and student emails should not be used to register for an account. 
  • AAC Language Lab Free Resources
    Resource website with a variety of articles, activities, books, and games to help implement AAC. This website also includes free manual communication boards that can be downloaded and printed. No subscription is required to access the free resources.