Augmentative and alternative communication overview

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) has been defined by the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC):

                  "to describe extra ways of helping people who find it hard to communicate by speech or writing. AAC helps them to communicate more easily."

Key points:

  • AAC should be considered as a viable option for improving the quality of life of anyone of any age with a severe communication impairment resulting from developmental, acquired, progressive, long-term or acute conditions.

  • “AAC covers a huge range of techniques which support or replace spoken communication.
    These include:
                • gestures
                • signing
                • symbols
                • word boards
                • communication boards
                • books
                • Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) Communication Matters".

  • If you are a person who uses AAC, family member, carer or professional, it is important to consult a speech and language therapist (SLT) or an AAC specialist to request a multi-disciplinary assessment to make an informed decision about any equipment you may need.
  • There is no ‘best’ type of AAC system. Each has pros and cons -  the most suitable one for an individual will depend on their personal preference, situation and on their abilities and needs. Specialist assessment will help to identify the most appropriate AAC system(s).

View AAC sections:

*member-only pages

 Cross-reference with other topic areas:

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