What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication?
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is any type of communication strategy used by individuals with a range of conditions causing them to have significant difficulties with verbal speech. Some individuals even require a range of AAC methods to communicate and others may use AAC in conjunction with verbal speech to achieve efficient communication. One AAC system may not meet all of their needs of every individual therefore there are a range of different systems and a Speech pathologist will individually assess each person to determine whether AAC is appropriate and what type is best suited.
Aided vs. Unaided AAC Systems
There are two main categories for AAC systems, aided types vs. unaided types. Aided AAC systems require external items to assist with getting the message across. This may include object symbols, communication boards, communication books, speech generating devices, computers, mobile phones and tablets. The second category, Unaided AAC includes communication techniques, which do not require external aids. These methods use the individual’s body to communicate their message. Types of unaided AAC include using eye contact, facial expression, body language and gesture to produce gestures, sign language or eye gaze tracking systems of communication.
High-tech vs. Low-tech or Light-tech devices
Aided devices can be split further into High-tech or Low-tech devices. Low-tech or Light-tech devices do not use technological equipment. This includes communication boards and communication books. High-tech devices include the use of technological devices. This includes voice generating devices and tablets. High-tech devices, which incorporate a display screen, also come with different interfaces with varying levels of user difficulties.
Some methods have static displays and others have dynamic displays. A static display device the pages on the screen are fixed with the symbols arranged on individual pages, not changing in position and in order to access more symbol options, one page is physically replaced by another when scrolling through. With dynamic displays, by touching a single symbol the individual can access multiple overlays automatically. These systems have a greater cognitive demand and a Speech Pathology assessment is required to determine the best fit for each individual to achieve optimal communication.
Contact us for results focused speech therapy
This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.
For more information about AAC click here.