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Have You Ever Used AAC? The Answer is YES!

Typically, we think of AAC users as people with complex communication needs, however every day we are using AAC in some form or fashion. AAC is used by everyone every day!

What is AAC?

AAC stands for Augmentative Alternative Communication. This includes any form of communication that is not speech. AAC can be used as a primary means of communicating or as a secondary means.  

Types of AAC 

There are three main categories of AAC: no tech, low tech, and high tech. 

  • No tech- No materials are used besides the communicator’s body. This would include body language, sign language, gestures, facial expressions, and pointing.  
  • Low tech – Limited materials are used to communicate. This includes writing, drawing, pointing to pictures, symbol charts, communication books, and communication boards 
  • High tech- Computerized devices that store and retrieve messages that are often communicated to conversation partners using speech output. These are often classified as Speech Generating Devices.  

What is Robust AAC and Where Does it Fit In?  

Robust AAC refers to a system that is linguistically robust. These AAC devices allow for the user to form grammatically correct sentences. Features that qualify a high tech AAC device as a linguist robust AAC device include: 

  • Dynamic display   
  • No fewer than 300 core words (words that make up the majority of what we say) 
  • Variety of fringe words (specific words) 
  • Wide range of word types (nouns, verbs, prepositions, etc.) 
  • Ability to make morphological changes (changing verb tense, pluralizing)  
  • Motor planning 
  • Access to prestored messages 

Benefits of AAC 

  • Increases quality of life, as it helps the user communicate wants, needs, interests, and builds relationships with the important people in their lives.
  • Supports communication through visual and/or auditory representation of words or thoughts.  
  • Reduces communication frustration. 
  • Decreases communication stressor by promoting multimodal communication. 
  • Increases communication and everyday independence. 
  • Increases connection with communication partner, through reduction of communication breakdown. 

 All forms of communication are valid! 


– Jocelyn Williams, M.S., CF-SLP


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