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What is AAC?

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.  AAC is the use of all forms of communication (other than speech) that a person uses to share wants, needs, thoughts, ideas and opinions.  AAC is used to supplement (augment) or replace (alternative) spoken or written language for people who have difficulty using speech to communicate.  AAC can be a permanent part of a person's communication system or temporary depending upon the reason for the person's speech impairment.


AAC includes both aided and unaided communication.  With unaided systems the person's body is used to communicate such as through sign language, gestures, facial expressions, body movements, vocalizations and for some, speech.  With aided systems a person uses different tools to communicate that range from simple picture boards to sophisticated speech generating devices.


It is important to keep in mind that a combination of unaided and aided communication systems will be used by the person with complex communication needs.  Therefore a thorough AAC assessment is necessary to determine what types of AAC will benefit the person with complex communication needs.