What is AAC & Why is it Important?



In the world of speech-language pathology, AAC is a term that gets thrown around often, and you may not know what it means. So, what is it? AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. In simpler terms, it means a way of communication that is non-verbal, used to help those who have difficulty communicating verbally. AAC devices are used to help

Individuals who communicate non-verbally, or to better aid in communication for individuals throughout their day-to-day lives.


What are the types of AAC devices?

The two main types of AAC devices are aided and unaided. Unaided AAC requires no external device besides the body, and can include gestures or facial expressions (Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), 2020). Aided AAC devices require a type of aid for communication, such as a tool or device that is considered either basic (low-tech) or high-tech (Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), 2020). This could include a board, iPad, or other device.


What are some examples?

  • Apple’s iPad Pro is innovative, dynamic, high-tech, and reliable, and functions excellently as an aided high-tech augmentative alternative communication device. Targeted at individuals with communication deficits or disorders, the Apple iPad Pro provides a multitude of communication applications to download ranging from Lamp to ProLoQuo2Go and many more.


  • Retrieved from https://apps.apple.com/app/lamp-words-for-life/id551215116

  • The Tobii Dynavox I-Series Device is a high-tech aided eye-gaze and touch access communication device. This device is targeted towards individuals with communication deficits and disorders that could be the result of spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or cerebral palsy (CP).


  • Retrieved from https://us.tobiidynavox.com/products/i-series

  • The Prentke-Romich Company (PRC) Accent 1400 Device is an aided high tech communication device that features eye-tracking technology, as well as various software and language system options to download. This device is targeted at individuals with communication deficits or disorders that need communication access through eye-tracking.

  • Tobii Dynavox features unaided low-tech printable free core first communication boards available in English, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish (Mexico), and Swedish. These communication boards are composed of tiles or cards that include both a picture and label to accompany it. They also include a link to editable versions on boardmakeronline.com to better customize the cards.

  • Alphabet boards are an easy to use unaided low-tech augmentative alternative communication option used either directly through eye gaze or pointing or indirectly through partner assisted scanning to communicate. These boards include a layout of all of the letters of the alphabet. They can often function as the first step following acquired neurological disorders, such as a stroke, TBI, or other accident impairing communication.

  • Fill-In Booklets are unaided low-tech augmentative alternative communication booklets that a patient can carry with them throughout their hospital stay or in assisted care, or a variety of locations and circumstances. They function as a temporary way to communicate basic needs, typically following acquired neurological disorders, such as a stroke or TBI, or other debilitating injury.

Why are AAC devices important?

AAC devices are important because they provide a form of communication for individuals who have difficulty communicating. Communication is an important aspect of social life and daily life, as well as quality of life. For many people, communication is a life-saving necessity in everyday life. By providing an alternative form of communication, individuals with communication deficits can engage and be included in everyday life.


When are AAC devices typically used?

As a service, AAC is provided in temporary (short-term) and permanent (long-term) situations to aid language and speech development. Some of the short-term and long-term circumstances range from mouth surgery to severe communication disorders to those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson Disease (PD), facilitating communication throughout. Devices that feature voice output can be especially helpful for children with ASD.


Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). (2020). Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/aac/


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