What Is Augmentative Communication?

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What Is Augmentative Communication?

Augmentative communication is a method of assisting kids and people with language impairments in expressive and receptive language. Supplementary communication, alternative communication, functional communication, helped communication, and facilitated communication is used to describe this type of communication.

Assistive technology devices, such as computers or mobile devices, can provide augmented communication. Low-tech augmentative communication technologies, such as picture communication systems, can also be employed.

Augmentative communication refers to technologies, systems, tactics, and instruments that substitute or supplement everyday speech (AAC). These tools assist someone who has trouble speaking verbally. Augmentative Communication is the first “A” in AAC. You add to or complement something when you augment it. When you add anything to your speech, it’s called augmentative communication (e.g., sign language, pictures, a letter board). This can help your listener understand what you’re saying.

Alternative Communication is the second “A” in AAC. This is when you are unable to communicate. It’s also when others don’t understand what you’re saying. In this instance, you’ll need to communicate in a different approaches.

AAC can be tools, systems, devices, or techniques in general. When a person’s speech isn’t working, these gadgets can help them communicate. Perhaps your child has not yet begun to speak. Maybe you’ve lost your ability to communicate. Your speech may come and go. Perhaps speaking is more complex than other forms of communication. AAC can be beneficial. AAC is a system of tools, devices, and strategies that help people with speech or other communication challenges to communicate more effectively and accurately. AAC systems can range from low-tech to high-tech devices. This is a general term that describes an alternative method of communication. It can either be used to supplement speech or to replace it entirely. For example, you could use a device to read text or speak it or use a sign language app to convey a message to someone on the other side of the world. It’s essential to understand what augmentative means before using it. It’s essential to have a clear idea of how it works before using it.

Augmentative communication, or AAC, is a system of communication that compensates for a person’s lack of speech. The techniques used vary, but they are all designed to help those with severe speech and language problems communicate. Augmentative communication is a set of techniques used by people who have difficulty communicating. It includes a variety of devices and methods, including a computer with a pointing device and an electronic voice. It may include speech-generating devices and a basic letterboard. There are many different AAC systems, and it’s essential to find out which one will work best for you. The right one will depend on your individual needs and goals.

1. How Does Augmentative Communication Help?

There are various reasons why a person may be unable to communicate verbally. They may have a developmental handicap that has hampered their speech development. They could have an acquired disorder that has hampered their ability to communicate. AAC can help a wide range of persons with various communication issues, speech impairments, and disorders.

Depending on the severity, severe language disabilities may include learning disabilities in listening comprehension, learning disabilities in vocal expression, or autism. Augmentative communication will likely aid people with communication difficulties, developmental delays in communication, apraxia, or auditory processing abnormalities.

This kind of communication is beneficial to pupils who have suffered severe brain injuries or are mentally retarded (while the word “mental retardation” is still used, it is considered a pejorative term). Many parents and disability advocates prefer mental illness and “person-centered” language.)

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, as well as individuals with selective mutism or aphasia, have employed augmentative communication. This communication tool has been used by senior individuals with health issues or linguistics disorders. AAC is a system of communication tools that help people who can’t speak. This tool will help them communicate in various situations, including school. An aided AAC device can improve a child’s speaking ability in a social setting and the classroom. In addition to this, it can help parents understand the language of a person with AAC. It will be more effective than just reading words to a person with a speech disorder.

2. What Are the Kinds of Augmentative Communication Tools?

When a person is unable to talk, AAC includes all of the tools and tactics they can utilize to communicate. AAC is typically broken down into two categories – Aided and Unaided. Both types of systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and both types are valuable for different people. To understand more about the methods available, it’s helpful to understand how each type of system works.

We usually divide them into two categories: unaided and aided AAC.

1. Unaided AAC- it includes those that do not require a physical aid or tool.
§ Facial expressions
§ Gestures
§ Body language
§ Sign language

2. Aided AAC- it includes tools or materials. The most popular type is an aided AAC system, which uses an electronic device to help speech and language. These aids are often expensive and require specialized training.
§ Choice cards
§ Communication and PODD books
§ Keyboards and alphabet charts
§ Speech-generating devices or communication devices
§ AAC apps on mobile devices

A low-tech device doesn’t require batteries or electricity and is used on a limited basis. Examples of low-tech AAC systems include books and communication boards. High-tech devices include speech-generating devices and voice output communication aids.

3. What Are Multi Modal Communicators?

Many people who cannot communicate verbally yet utilize AAC are multi modal communicators. This means they can communicate their messages in a variety of ways. They may employ vocalizations, word approximations, and even gesture and sign language in additional to AAC. Many people use photographs from their camera roll to supplement their statements. All forms of communication should be appreciated and supported. Even if the communication is different, it still tells us something!

Even persons who can communicate verbally may benefit from AAC. AAC can help if your speech is limited. It might provide a person with additional vocabulary and language. They may communicate significantly more using AAC than they could with only speech.

4. What Are the Benefits of Using an AAC?

People with speech difficulties often find it difficult to form bonds and relationships as it is difficult to express themselves. Augmentative communication makes it easier for them to communicate with others and helps people to form friendships and relationships.
social encounters that are richer and more frequent
more profound social roles: family member, friend, professional, student more autonomy and decision-making authority over their own lives more independence more respect from others greater participation in their families and communities
improved communication with physicians
Personal safety has increased in various care settings, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.
additional volunteer and employment opportunities
physical and mental well-being

5. What Are the Challenges of Using an AAC?

When someone cannot communicate reliably without the use of AAC, problems arise frequently.

People that utilize AAC report that before having a communication system, they went through the following:

They went through more social isolation and loneliness, increased frustration, and acting out with loved ones with greater vulnerability, especially when they were alone in a care setting feeling shut out of important life decisions. Their inability to show what they know or can learn inability to show what they know or can learn it inhibited them from acting proactively and taking control of their own lives.

6. What Is the Difference Between Augmentative and Alternative Communication?

AAC is separated into two types: augmentative and alternative communication.

Using systems/devices to supplement natural speech is known as augmentative communication. A modest portable amplifier, for example, can boost speech loudness and enable people with the limited vocal ability to communicate more effectively.

System/devices that replace natural voice are used in alternative communication. Alternative communication can be enabled using a keyboard text-to-speech program or even something as simple as a communication board. The majority of people who use alternative communication technologies cannot communicate verbally.

Initially, this field was referred to as “additional communication.” The word “alternative” was added afterward to emphasize that communication technologies can supplement or replace natural speech.

The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) was founded in 1983 to serve the needs of children and people with complex communication requirements around the world.

7. What Is an Example of Augmentative Communication?

The Mayer-Johnson systems, Dynamo, and Picture Exchange Communication Systems are examples of augmentative communication equipment (PECS). Mayer-Johnson systems come in various pricing points, ranging from $30 to $2,500. However, most of the devices are priced between $100 and $200.

People can utilize buttons to communicate, Flip’ n Talk kits, and the incredibly complex Proxtalker. If you have $2,500 to spare, though, this device may be worthwhile. The following is taken from the Mayer-Johnson website about the product:

“To make real words, the Deerstalker uses RFID technology to retrieve vocabulary stored on sound tags. Select a tag, place it on a button, and press it. The sound, word, or sentence you’ve assigned to the tag will be spoken by the Deerstalker gadget.”

Individuals that rely on “symbols, visuals, or objects to reference their conversation” will benefit from Goalkeeper’s multi modal sensory support.

The product is believed to be suitable for users of communication books and photo exchange systems, as well as for teachers looking for a solution to help nonverbal pupils participate in schoolwork.


There are many forms of AAC. The method used depends on the person’s needs. It can be complex or straightforward, adapted to each individual’s specific needs. For example, a person with difficulty speaking can point at a single picture to convey a message. They can also wear a head pointer to show their feelings. The use of an AAC device is not limited to a person with limited speech.

If your kid has a language impairment, an augmentative communication device could be beneficial both at school and at home. Please consult your child’s special education teacher, counselor, or administrator to determine whether augmentative communication devices are appropriate for them.

In some circumstances, a low-tech device may be helpful, while in others, a more modern device may be more appropriate. The idea is to provide your child with alternative means of communication, so she doesn’t miss out on anything in life, whether in class or at home.

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