AAC 101: What is Augmentative-Alternative Communication?

According to the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association (ASHA), it is, “…a set of procedures and processes by which an individual’s communication skills (i.e. production as well as comprehension) can be maximized for functional and effective communication.  It involves supplementing or replacing natural speech… with aided… and/or unaided symbols…”

What is Augmentative-Alternative Communication

Note that this definition
  • refers to communication approaches that augment speech or serve as an alternative
  • refers to all methods that make communication easier or possible
  • may include facial expressions; gestures; an alphabet, words or picture board; a computer; and other similar systems.

According to ASHA, too, the “goal of augmentative and alternative communication use is the most effective interaction possible.  Anything less represents a compromise of the individual’s human potential.”

Ultimately, the most effective communication is achieved through spontaneous novel utterance generation (SNUG). 

SNUG allows someone to say anything they want, by combining words, word combinations, and commonly used phrases.  It’s based on normal language (moving from single words to word combinations), and on the notion that most sentences we use we’ve never used before.  
what  is AAC

Consider:  if most sentences we use we’ve not used before, then how can we predict which number of limited number of sentences someone else will want to use?  

In fact, pre-stored messages (as have been found on many AAC users’ systems) are rarely used in social contexts by AAC users, according to the research (Hill, K, and Balandin & Iacono). **

Thus, it needs to be the goal of AAC intervention to provide our clients and students with the words to say whatever they want to, whenever they want to, wherever they want to.

Next post: AAC terminology
Until then, Keep on Talking


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  2. Quite helpful. Thanks very much for sharing. I had no idea what ACC was.

    1. Most teachers don't come into contact with it; the population of nonverbal kids is relatively small. But it is also gaining more traction in schools, so hopefully you'll see some kids in your school using it.
      Thanks for reading.

  3. Excellent blog post! I will be utizling this. Thank you!