What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) system?

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) 2008
defines AAC as:
“An augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system is an integrated group of components, including the symbols, aids, strategies, and techniques used by individuals with severe speech and language disabilities to enhance communication. ”

Communication Goals:
ORIGINAL THREE (e.g. Fristoe & Lloyd, 1977/1979)
1. Provide temporary means of communication
2. Provide Long-Term Means of Communication
3. Facilitate Development of Spoken Communication

4. Provide a means of written communication
5. Assist Development of Concepts, Language Structure,
and/or Literacy
6. Assist Achievement of Other Communication, Education,and/or Intervention Goals

Communication Partners
“an individual’s communication partners need to be directly involved in order for communication services and supports to be effective.” (Cirrin & Penner, 1995; McWilliam, 1996; Paul-Brown & Caperton, 2001).

Communication Competence
“an individual’s ability to communication functionally with communication partners across the day and across all of their natural environments”.  This concept must be viewed from an individual’s orientation in time and space and to people” Light (1989) – (References from Pat Ourand, MS, CCC-SLP)

AAC Resources:

AAC Feature Match (information from WATI-Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative)

A software program that teams can use to help determine which augmentative communication devices might work for a specific child.

AAC TechConnect


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American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)