Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication; (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write. (ASHA Website – www.asha.org).

Many of our students with severe speech or language problems rely on AAC to supplement existing speech or replace speech that is not functional. There are many different AAC systems available to help our students increase their communication skills. AAC users should not stop oral speech if they are able to do so but use the AAC aids/devices to enhance his/her communication abilities. AAC systems should be personalized to meet the needs of the student.

No Tech – Signs, gestures, and facial expressions

Low Tech – Communication aids that do not need batteries, electricity, or electronic support

  • Picture Communication Exchange System (PECS)
  • Core Boards
  • Pictures
  • Written words

Mid Tech – Static displays and need to be recorded

  • Go Talk
  • Tech Talk
  • Tech Speech
  • Step-by-Step
  • Big Mac

High Tech – Refers to technologically advanced communication tools and systems

  • Nova Chat
  • DynaVox
  • iPads
  • Computers

Review your students’ IEPs and find out if any of your students are currently using an AAC system to assist with their communication.  Make sure teachers you reach out to your speech-language pathologists if you want more information about how to use your student’s specific device.  There are so many new devices that are much easier to use and maintain than previously.  Again, make sure the devices are accessible within the classroom and the students are using their devices during classroom activities and tasks.

Sarah Gast
Sarah Gast

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