Augmentative & Alternative Communication

Augmentative & Alternative Communication

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an area of clinical practice that addresses the needs of individuals with significant and complex communication disorders characterized by impairments in speech-language production and/or comprehension, including spoken and written modes of communication.

AAC uses a variety of techniques and tools, including picture communication boards/books, line drawings, speech-generating devices (SGDs), tangible objects, manual signs, gestures, and finger spelling, etc. to help the individual express thoughts, wants, needs, feelings, and ideas.

AAC is augmentative when used to supplement existing speech, and alternative when used in place of speech that is absent or not functional.

AAC may be temporary, as when used by patients when acquiring spoken language, or permanent, as when used by an individual who will require the use of some form of AAC throughout his or her lifetime. Individuals with acquired disabilities may benefit from AAC use.

Congenital disabilities include:

  • autism spectrum disorder (ASD);
  • cerebral palsy;
  • developmental disabilities;
  • intellectual disability;
  • developmental apraxia of speech;
  • genetic disorders

AAC needs for individuals may vary and change over time.