AAC: A Quick Guide

October is AAC awareness month! The goal of this month is to raise awareness of AAC and to inform the public of the many different ways people communicate using communication devices. If you're wondering what AAC is, keep reading!

What is AAC?

AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. AAC includes forms of communication, other than oral speech, that are used to express communication.

Who uses AAC?

Actually, we all do! We use AAC through our facial expressions, gestures, drawing, and writing. However, people with severe speech and language impairments rely on AAC to supplement or replace their own communication that is not functional or intelligible to their listeners.

Types of AAC: Unaided vs. Aided

Unaided communication systems- These systems are what we use every day in our conversations that help relay messages. Unaided communication relies on the user's body to help convey the message.  Examples include gestures, facial expressions, body language, sign language, etc.

Aided communication systems- These systems require the use of tools and/or equipment. Aided communication can range from using a pencil and paper to write a message to a voice output device.  People with severe speech and language impairments can use electronic communication aids with the help of pictures or words to create messages.

The SLP's role in AAC

AAC falls within the scope of practice of Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs).  SLPs will determine the need for AAC and which system will best meet the child or adult's need. The SLP will then set up the communication device and educate the team (client, parent, teacher, spouse, etc.) how to program and use the device. SLPs will work with the client and their device to implement functional and effective communication in all environments.

**If you are someone you know have questions about AAC or think someone may benefit from the use of AAC, please contact a certified speech language pathologist.  You can find a list of certified SLPs in your area at asha.org.

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