What is AAC?

I write about AAC a lot, and my daughter’s “talker”. I figure I should probably explain what AAC is (and is not), before I get too far into this whole month of AAC awareness.

  • AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. That means that it supplements or replaces speech as communication.
  • AAC can be the use of your body to support communication. All of us do this every day — facial expressions, gestures, and so on…
  • AAC can be sign language.
  • AAC can be “low-tech”. This is often pictures or picture boards, but it can be objects or tactile cards or alphabet boards or anything like that.
  • AAC can be “high-tech”. These are the speech devices, the computers, the iPads, and so on.
  • People can access AAC devices and systems in all sorts of ways — touching a button with their pointer, looking at a screen or object, hitting a switch with their foot, using a pointer attached to their head… It’s pretty amazing.
  • AAC can serve all the same functions as speech — greeting people, taking turns, talking about your day, asking for things, sharing your feelings, and so on.
  • AAC does not delay speech.
  • AAC is not inferior to speech.
  • Some people use AAC systems and speech. Most people use a communication system that relies on several different ways of sharing what they want to say.
  • AAC can be used when you are 12 months old or 100 years old.
  • AAC is a rapidly expanding field, and few therapists have the ability to stay up on it all.
  • AAC is used by people who are deaf, who are apraxic, who have disabilities, who have medical diseases — anyone who is not able to fully express themselves via speech.
  • AAC is life-changing.
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