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Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Definition


The term AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) covers a huge range of techniques, which aid or replace spoken communication. These include gesture, signing, symbols, communication boards and books, as well as Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) at the more technological level.

There are two types of AAC, unaided and aided. Unaided communication refers to those means of communication, which do not require an additional piece of equipment e.g. body language, signing and gesturing. British Sign Language and Makaton are examples of unaided communication.

Aided communication refers to those methods, which require additional equipment such as symbol charts or a VOCA. These options can be low or high tech. Low tech are the systems which are paper based and don't require power to function. High tech options usually require at least a battery to operate and may take the form of a single message system, right up to a system that incorporates email and photography capabilities.

Notes


There is no best type of AAC system for everyone. Each has pros and cons and the most suitable one for an individual will depend on their personal preference, as well as on their abilities and needs. Specialist assessment will help to identify the most appropriate AAC system or systems.

AAC can involve low-tech or high-tech methods. Some people have additional physical difficulties and may need to use different ways to access these AAC methods.

How we can help


If you are a person who uses AAC, family member, carer or professional, it is important to consult a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) or an AAC specialist for an assessment to help you make an informed decision about any equipment you may need.

Our therapists here at Eg (Training) Ltd are able to work with clients to assess and develop an appropriate AAC method suited to each individual client. We work closely in conjunction with both technology advisors and other therapists to ensure that the hardware, software and means of access are best suited to the client and their abilities.

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