Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) refers to a range of methods and strategies to support verbal language (speech). These may include simple systems such as gesture and pointing or high-tech devises, such as computer technologies.


AAC may include:

  • Natural gesture and body language (e.g. pointing, eye gaze, facial expression)

  • Signing

  • Objects of reference (objects relating to daily routines and activities)

  • Alphabet or word boards

  • Choosing boards

  • Talking mats

  • Communication books with photos/symbols

  • Visual timetables and schedules

  • PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)

  • Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs)

  • Switches (buttons which when pressed play a pre-recorded message and/or activate a toy)

  • Tablets and computer technologies

  • Eye gaze technology


AAC is introduced to support the communication of those who cannot effectively communicate through verbal means. This may be a temporary support or long-term solution and AAC approaches should be considered on an individual basis. It is important to note that AAC is rarely, if ever, introduced as a replacement for speech, but a supportive strategy to aid effective communication.


When working with young children I mostly adopt a ‘total communication’ approach. This involves introducing a range of the above strategies to support a child’s attention and listening, understanding and expressive communication.


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