What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication also known as AAC?   A method other than speech that is used for communication.  AAC can be High Tech; such as an iPad, tablet, or computer with special language software, or low tech; communication books, and boards, and no tech; sign language, gestures, or facial expressions. 

Who Uses Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)?

Individuals who are unable to speak, have some verbal approximations, or a few words.  AAC can be used to replace missing speech or to supplement limited speech.  Individuals with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Developmental Delay, Angelman’s Syndrome, CHARGE Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury and this is to name a few who may benefit from the implementation of AAC.

Common AAC Terms:

High-tech: Any communication system that has the ability to store and retrieve a message and has voice output capabilities.

Low-tech: Doesn’t have voice output capabilities.  This method typically involves pictures.

Core Words: High frequency words an individual uses often that can be used in a variety of settings and situations. 

Communication Partner: Any person an AAC user communicates with.

Generalization: When are new skills are demonstrated across different situations.

Modeling: When a communication partner uses the AAC system to communicate.

Prompting: The level of assistance needed for a student to engage with their communication system.  Emphasizing a least to most approach.  

Program: Individualizing a communication device, editing settings, or adding/removing vocabulary. 

Access Method: How an AAC user uses their device. This can be with their finger, eye-gaze, or scanning with a switch. 

A line drawing of the many forms of AAC

Common AAC Terms: