May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. As part of Better Hearing and Speech month, we want to provide some more education regarding Augmentative and Alternative Communication (also known as AAC). AAC refers to all ways that an individual communicates aside from oral communication. This article aims to teach you more about different types of AAC and how it can be an important part of our kid’s lives.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can be described as multiple ways to communicate that either supplement or compensate for the impairment of individuals with expressive communication delays or disorders. This supplementation or compensation can either be temporary (I.e., following a stroke) or permanent (e.g. an Autistic person who is non-speaking). AAC is multi-modal and aims to improve interactions and participation in everyday life.
There are a few different types of AAC and can be matched to the individual based on their needs. Learn more below:
- No-Tech Options: (Requires no battery-operated device)
- Communication Board: pointing to symbols or icons to communicate single words or to string them together to formulate a phrase or sentence.
- Pen and Paper: writing or drawing to communicate a message.
- Letter Board: a grid of letters, numbers, and symbols that allows an individual to spell out words and sentences.
- Mid-Tech Options (Battery operated device that can provide some speech generated output):
- Single Button: a single button such as a Big Mac can be used to speak a single, pre-recorded speech message (e.g., “I need help”).
- High-Tech Options: (Robust electronic systems)
- Dedicated device: a portable computer system in which the software is only used for speech generating purposes.
- Non-dedicated device: a device that you can download an application onto for speech generating purposes, but that you can also use for other purposes (e.g., email, games, internet, etc.).
- Eye Gaze: dedicated communication devices that are accessed through tracking one’s eye gaze in order to select an icon on a screen.
Typically, a speech-language pathologist will be involved in the process of matching an AAC system to the individual. They will work directly with the client and their family to find the right AAC system to meet their needs. They also play a critical role in teaching their clients and loved ones how to use their AAC to communicate effectively. Stay tuned to learn more about AAC, the different applications and devices that can be used, as well as AAC from the perspective of some of our very own clients here at SST.