What is AAC?

AAC is short for Augmentative and Alternative Communication 

Augmentative – something that supplements speech 

Alternative – something to use instead of speech 

AAC can be devices, strategies or tools which help a person communicate.  

AAC is often broken down into two groups: 

Unaided (doesn’t require physical aids)  

  • Gesture  
  • Auslan 
  • Key Word Sign  
  • Facial expression  
  • Body language. 

Aided (physical object required or device)  

  • Symbols  
  • Aided Language Displays  
  • Communication books  
  • Speech Generating Devices (SGD’s)  
  • Keyboards and/or alphabet charts  

Who is suitable for AAC? 

AAC is suitable for anyone who may have trouble speaking, or even if they have some words, however others find it difficult to understand them. This allows the person to have more success in chatting to others and gives them the opportunity to enjoy interactions with other people about whatever they would like to talk about.  

What is a Multi-Modal Communicator 

A multi-modal communicator is someone who uses several forms of communication to get their message across. It is common for a verbal speak to enhance their verbal communication with gesture or facial expressions. An AAC user may need assistance to use such strategies for example, supplementing their communication with vocalisations, gestures, photographs or some attempts at words to enable their listener to understand them.  

Are there any pre-requisites for AAC?  

This is a great question and is easily summed up by the below image  

 
There are absolutely no prerequisites (other than being able to breathe) for an individual to be a candidate for AAC.  

Some individuals with severe sensory-motor challenges cannot show how strong their cognition is without a means to communicate (Romski and Sevcik 2005) thus it is incredibly important that an individual has access to some form of communication 

Will using AAC stop my child from ever talking to me?  

This is a common question that is raised when discussing AAC with families. The research has shown time and time again that AAC will not prevent a child from becoming verbal, rather quite the contrary, it may encourage the development of spoken communication, which should always be a simultaneous goal when working with an AAC user. (Romski, Sevcik, and Adamson,1997) (Cress, 2003), (Quick et al. 2019).  

AAC is a valuable tool to increase access to communication and promote participation for anyone who may be experiencing communication difficulties.