Augmentative Alternative Communication

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While most of us think of speech and verbal language when we think about communication, there are a variety of means of communication for individuals who do not have the ability to develop or functionally use verbal speech. Augmentative or Alternative Communication (AAC) involves using an additional means of communication to supplement verbal speech.

AAC includes both unaided and aided symbol systems.
  • An unaided system is a system which only requires the communicator's body to. Unaided AAC systems include sign language, gestures, and other body movements, such as eye blinks or hand squeezes.
  • An aided system uses an additional transmission device which may be either low-tech or high-tech. Low-tech systems include pictures, photographs, objects, line-drawings, icons, picture boards and communication books (e.g., PECS). High-tech systems include computer programs and voice output devices.
Often, low-tech aided systems and unaided systems are incorporated in language therapy to increase a client's communicative competence. For more sophisticated AAC systems, referral to, and evaluation by an SLP specializing in AAC is necessary.


American Speech-Language Hearing Association

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Advanced Cognitive

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Tecumseh, Ontario N8N 1Y3