Fact Sheet

Things You Need to Know about Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)

  • People who use AAC to communicate love to chat just as much as you do!
  • There are many ways of communicating. AAC user may use multiple means, with different people, in different contexts, and at different times.
  • People who use AAC need access to many different types of AAC — from sign language and pen and paper all the way up to speech generating devices.
  • AAC can encourage speech development, not hinder it.
  • Talk directly to the person who is using AAC, not to an accompanying family member or assistant.
  • Most people who use AAC have typical hearing. Speak in a normal tone of voice, without exaggerating.
  • A patient attitude is an effective tool in communicating with people who use AAC.
  • Ask individuals about their preferences. For example, some people who use AAC don’t like it when people read over their shoulders or finish their sentences before they completely type them out.
  • People who use AAC need access to an appropriate AAC system that is not restricted to selection based on their assumed abilities.
  • It may look as if people who use AAC are not communicating, but people can control whole AAC systems with any body part, including their eyes!
  • AAC competence can take a long time to build.
  • People who use AAC have various levels of independence. Don’t assume they need an assistant.

Print Version of the AAC Factsheet (PDF)

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