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What is AAC?

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

AAC = Augmentative and Alternative Communication

It is a term that's used to describe various methods of communication that can help people who are unable to use verbal speech to communicate. AAC is designed for Autism, Down Syndrome, ALS, apraxia, stroke, etc.

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It refers to tools and strategies that can enhance speech or provide completely different means of communication. AAC can be aided (using a device) or unaided (no means needed), such as sign language or gestures. The truth is we all use some AAC. We text, type, write, and use gestures. Additional instruments, such as communication devices, books, or apps, can provide means of communication for individuals who cannot speak.

Through communication, it comes to everything. It is the way people interact, establish relationships, learn about the world and others, and make themselves understood.

It is clear that everyone has questions, doubts, and curiosities and on the other hand, also something to say, to let others know about. 

But what about people who find it harder or even impossible to speak?

AAC is the answer

AAC means Augmentative and Alternative Communication. 

But what does it really mean?

Augmentative communication represents the addition of different elements to the speech to support it and help the information be transmitted clearly and in a more efficient manner.

Alternative communication is a way of expressing thoughts, ideas and feelings, desires, and needs without actually using speech.

The two terms are combined to convey the system of communication methods used to supplement or even substitute natural speech for those who are unable to use it efficiently.

Facts and Myths about AAC

Myth: “AAC is only for nonverbal individuals.”

Fact: Actually, it is for anyone who does not have reliable verbal speech as any patient who does not have effective expressive communication.

Myth: “AAC hinders further speech development.”

Fact: Especially for young children, it is the exact opposite. It enhances the development of spoken communication.

Myth: “AAC is the last resort in the speech-language intervention.”

Fact: AAC can play important roles in early communication development.

Using AAC tools makes a difference especially for children, who are much likely expected to improve their communication skills. Such tools are used in different therapies for kids to practice their language interactively. It is also a great strategy to use to make the conversations evolve a lot quicker than without it.

Also in urgent situations, when individuals encounter communication deficits, AAC apps ease the process of them getting the help they need. They do not have to struggle anymore to tell people taking care of them what is going on or what they need. Especially being an emergency, time is priceless and AAC helps saving it.


Augmentative and Alternative Communication, no matter their age, is an effective rehabilitation approach to people with impairments in linguistic expression, helping these patients increase their social participation while enhancing their self-esteem.

Researchers hypothesize that using an AAC device relieves the pressure of having to speak, allowing the individual to focus on communication and that the reduction in psychological stress makes speech production easier and others speculate that the model of spoken output facilitates an increase in speech production.


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