What is AAC?
Augmentative & Alternative Communication
Did you know that being able to communicate is a human right? Every person, including people with disabilities, has the right to express themselves, no matter which method they use to do so.
AAC refers to a number of strategies or devices that supplement, or replace an individual’s ability to speak. This includes sign language, pointing to words or symbols, or using specialist devices that produce computer generated speech.
AAC is valuable for people who cannot talk at all, people who have limited speech, unclear or very quiet speech, or people who find speech difficult in certain situations, or for temporary periods. People of all ages, backgrounds and languages can use AAC, and there are NO specific skills required before starting. AAC is for anybody with a barrier to communication.
Low Tech AAC
Low Tech AAC is when people use resources such as paper communication books, alphabet charts, symbols and pictures, or even physical objects to share their message.
Low Tech AAC is affordable, does not rely on electricity and is easy to use in any environment (like when you're swimming!)
Special software is available to help you make Low Tech AAC resources quickly and easily.
It is a great idea to have a Low Tech communication system as a back-up for times when your High Tech system can't be used.
High Tech AAC
High Tech AAC is when people use a special device or a computer with specialist software to share their message.
Some devices use messages which somebody else has pre-recorded onto the device, and others use computer-generated speech to say whatever the user types.
It is not necessary to be literate or able to spell in order to use computer-generated speech.
High Tech devices allow for a broad (or unlimited) range of messages to be spoken, and some can perform other functions, such as email or web browsing as well as communication.
Communication software allows people to create their message, and have it spoken aloud by the computer.
Messages can be typed using normal alphabet letters, word prediction and sentence prediction to make it quicker to say what you want to. Messages can also be created using symbols, for people who are not literate. These are pictures which represent objects, feelings, places, people and more.
The appearance of the message pages can be completely adjusted to meet the needs of the user. If certain colours make the letters easier to see, or pictures need to be very large to be managed by the user, all this is possible through this sophisticated software.
Communication Devices can be as simple as a recording device containing only a single message, or they can contain multiple messages.
They can be a 'dedicated' device, which means they are built specifically for the purposes of providing communication, or they can be 'non-dedicated' devices and based on a computer, which can also perform all the usual functions that a computer or tablet usually would.
Each has advantages, and their choice depends on a careful assessment of the needs, preferences and abilities of the user and their family.
Enabling People with Physical Disabilities
If a person with complex communication needs also has a physical disability, it is still possible to provide access to a communication system.
There are a huge variety of alternative 'Access Devices' which use different body parts and even tiny movements, to control a device and create messages. People with only the ability to move their eyes, can use an eye-tracking computer to type while looking at an on-screen keyboard, for example.
Our expert advisors have great experience in assessing the abilities of people with complex physical needs, and helping to find the right solutions.