Understanding Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)

May 9, 2023 2 Comments

What is AAC?

When we talk about AAC we are referring to Augmentative and Alternative Communication, a range of tools and strategies that can be used by anyone who has difficulty communicating reliably using mouth words (speech). 

The word Augmentative means “to add” and in the context of AAC, it relates to adding something to mouth words, such as pictures or signs, to make the message clearer to the person receiving it. 

Alternative suggests doing something different and refers to alternative ways to communicate instead of using mouth words.

Who is AAC for?

We all use forms of AAC without realising, such as hand gestures, facial expressions or text messages which all serve to get our message across. 

However, AAC is particularly beneficial for anyone who needs assistance in communicating or cannot reliably express their thoughts, needs or emotions using mouth words. 

AAC is not restricted by age and can be used by young children all the way through to adulthood. 

A common misconception about AAC is that it may limit or replace mouth words completely, especially when being used by very young children. Research on the subject shows that AAC can, in fact, support both mouth words and literacy development.

Types of AAC

There are two main types of AAC: Aided and Unaided. 

Aided AAC examples include communication books, alphabet charts, VOCAs (Voice output Communication Aids) or AAC apps.

We may be more familiar with unaided types of AAC which include signs, gestures, body language or facial expressions. Nodding or shaking of the head is an example of an unaided AAC that creates a clear message without the use of mouth words.

Further Information

For more information on the topic of AAC I will be holding a webinar on May 24th at 7pm via Zoom. 

The webinar is titled “Getting Started with AAC” and will cover the following topics:

  • The different types of AAC available
  • How to decide if your child would benefit from AAC
  • Which AAC system might be best for your child
  • Tips to support your child’s language development using AAC
  • AAC funding options available in Ireland

You can purchase your ticket to the webinar here

If you’re unable to join live on May 24th, playback will be available for 14 days following the event.



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