Augmentative and Alternative Communication

What is it – Who can benefit – Where to start

Communication occurs all day, every day, in all aspects of our lives. It is a fundamental component of literacy development and classroom participation, and can greatly impact your quality of life. Individuals who cannot express themselves verbally may need to use AAC to communicate.

What is AAC?

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

AAC means all of the ways that someone communicates besides talking. People of all ages can use AAC if they have trouble with speech or language skills. Augmentative means to add to someone’s speech. Alternative means to be used instead of speech. “

What does this look like?

Many individuals believe AAC refers to devices that speak for you; however, AAC comes in many forms. It ranges from can be no-tech strategies, like gesturing to high-tech devices, like voice-generating computers. Listed below are examples of both levels. Remember, there are many ways to express yourself than simply ‘talking.’


Low/no tech

-          Body language/facial expressions

-          Gesturing

-          Writing

-          Drawing

-          Pointing to photos or words



-          Using an app on a device

-          Using a speech-generating device a computer with a voice.


 Who can benefit?

ANYONE! That’s right, all ages can benefit from AAC. Studies have shown that even children under the age of 3 can benefit from AAC – there are no prerequisites or milestones required to use AAC (, which is often a HUGE misconception. Additionally, using an AAC device will not prevent someone from talking or halt language development. In fact, research shows that AAC can actually help with these concerns. Individuals who use AAC can also learn how to read and write.” ( Remember – there are many forms of communication.

Where to start?

So, you or someone you know may benefit from AAC, but who do you call – a SLP! A Speech Language Pathologist is a trained professional who can assist you in determining which type of AAC method is best suited to meet your needs. Difficulty with mobility? No problem – There are AAC options that do not require the use of your hands at all! We work closely with other professionals, such as OTs and PTs to determine which device meets ALL of your needs.


Other Resources (obtained from

 This list does not include every website on this topic. ASHA does not endorse the information on these sites.  




Author: Jessie Lopez, M.A. CCC-SLP


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Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. The content is based on the author's personal experiences, research, and opinions. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified professional or expert before making any decisions or taking action based on the information provided in this blog.

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