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, visit the AAC Language Lab.

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.

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.