New to AAC

If the acronym AAC doesn’t mean anything to you, you’re in the right place. 

First, AAC stands for Alternative and Augmentative Communication. AAC is a way for people who have communication challenges, to have a means to communicate.

The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) is the licensing body for Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs). SLPs are the individuals who recommend and help implement AAC supports. They have a wealth of information on their website to help you get started.

Additionally, you can request a guide in English or Spanish be mailed to you if you or the AAC users you know aren’t super tech savvy.

There are three “tiers” of AAC supports and we have some resources for each below:


What are AAC devices?

PECS image courtesy of  Amazon.com .

PECS image courtesy of Amazon.com.

Low Tech

These are ways in which a person can communicate with no speech output function.

  • PECS

  • Visual systems/Visual schedule: These use pictures to help a child or person “navigate” their environment with picture supports. Check out this video below that does a great job outlining the ways in which a visual system can help someone with communication difficulties

GoTalk product shot from  National Autism Resources .

GoTalk product shot from National Autism Resources.

Mid Tech

These types devices have some means of speech output but are limited to buttons that don’t easily switch between words and are often used to provide basic, functional communication. It’s a great stepping stone to a more high-tech device and also these devices are cheaper and many schools and facilities have them!

  • GoTalk

  • Switches

Patrick Sean O'Brien , a.k.a. Transfatty, and his high tech communication device. 

Patrick Sean O'Brien, a.k.a. Transfatty, and his high tech communication device. 

High Tech

These are the devices that many people think of when they first learn about AAC. They are speech generating devices or apps that allow a person without a voice, to talk. They have the options of using symbols to represent words/ideas, or they can simply spell. There are a variety of access methods such as touching a screen with your hand, using a stylus, and even an eye gaze system that allows those with no movement to independently communicate. Here are a few videos that demonstrate the most common access methods on these devices.


Who can get one?

Anyone of any age who experiences difficulty communicating with others and their environment! The medical diagnoses range from ALS, to autism, to recovering stroke patients, to children with apraxia of speech.


When can you get one?

This is an easy answer! Anytime! Some families and their child’s team of clinicians may decide early on that a device is needed because they aren’t speaking, are unintelligible, or are motorically unable to speak. Some children go through a couple years of school using other supports with the idea that someday they will have natural speech.


How do I get one?

Referral process

Only a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist can submit a report with a request for a high-tech device.

  • For kids, a pediatrician needs to refer them for an evaluation or the process can be done through their school SLP.

  • For adults, a referral from an SLP will suffice.

Assessment process

This (kind of long) video is how ASHA recommends an SLP undertake an AAC assessment. 

 

This slightly shorter video gives a quick and dirty version of how an assessment should go. 


Where do they come from?


Why should I get or recommend a device for myself, my child, or my loved one?

Because communication is paramount to the human condition and experience. People need to communicate to feel part of their community and the avenue of AAC offers them that chance. So let this website be the bridge you need to AAC success!