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Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the use of tools to support or replace verbal speech. AAC falls under the broader umbrella of Assistive Technology (AT), or the use of any equipment, tool, or strategy to improve functional daily living in individuals with disabilities or limitations.

Types of AAC

AAC uses a variety of techniques and tools to help the individual express thoughts, wants and needs, feelings, and ideas. They are commonly categorized by "level" of technology used, but most individuals use a variety of these methods to communicate as needed in different situations and activities.

No-Tech and Low-Tech AAC

  • manual signs/sign language

  • gestures

  • finger spelling

  • tangible objects

  • line drawings, photos

  • picture communication boards and letter boards

  • partner-assisted scanning e.g. PODD books, flip charts

  • e-trans/eye gaze boards

Mid-Tech and High-Tech AAC

  • voice output devices e.g. BigMack, GoTalk, Prox Talker

  • switch-activated toys and tools

  • keyboarding and alternative pencils

  • speech-generating devices

  • applications e.g. LAMP Words For Life, Unity, Proloquo2Go, TouchChat, Grid3

  • alternative access methods (eye gaze, head tracking, switch control)

  • text-to-speech/speech-to-text

  • computer and environmental access​​

  • voice banking for degenerative diseases


Working with a skilled speech-language pathologist is extremely important for selection and use of any AAC system. The SLP may fulfill the following roles:​

  • Conduct a comprehensive, transdisciplinary, culturally and linguistically relevant AAC assessment

  • Trial a variety of systems to meet individual communication needs.

  • Generate reports to help with funding a communication device.

  • Develop individualized plans to maximize effective communication of individuals who use AAC, including integration of technology with existing communication strategies/speech.

  • Provide programming and technical support for use of a device.

  • Educate individuals and team members on strategies to maximize system use.

  • Provide training to all team members on how to use and implement AAC system(s).

  • Document progress, determine appropriate AAC modifications, and assist with adjustments as needed.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Practice Portal). Retrieved Jan, 18th, 2023, from

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