• What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)?

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    You may have seen someone write in a notebook to answer a question or state a need. Maybe you have seen people using sign language or other types of gestures. You may have seen someone push buttons on a tablet that generates a spoken voice for them. These are all forms of augmentative and alternative communication or AAC. 

    AAC includes all of the ways we share our ideas and feelings without talking. We all use forms of AAC every day. We use AAC when we use facial expressions or gestures instead of talking. You use AAC when you write a note and pass it to a friend or coworker. We may not realize how often we communicate without talking.  

    People with severe speech or language problems may need AAC to help them communicate. Some may use it all of the time. Others may say some words but use AAC for longer sentences or with people they don’t know well. AAC can help in school, at work, and when talking with friends and family.  

    There are two main types of AAC—unaided systems and aided systems. You may use one or both types. Most people who use AAC use a combination of AAC types to communicate.  

    Unaided Systems  

    You do not need anything but your own body to use unaided systems. These include gestures, body language, facial expressions, and sign language.  

    Aided Systems 

    An aided system uses some sort of tool or device. There are two types of aided systems—basic and high-tech. A pen and paper is a basic aided system. Pointing to letters, words, or pictures on a board is a basic aided system. Touching letters or pictures on a computer screen that speaks for you is a high-tech aided system. Some of these speech-generating devices, or SGDs, can speak in different languages.  


    *Information gathered from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association*

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  • What is Language?

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    Language refers to the words we use and how we use them to share ideas and get what we want. Language includes:

    • What words mean. Some words have more than one meaning. For example, “star” can be a bright object in the sky or someone famous.
    • How to make new words. For example, we can say “friend,” “friendly,” or “unfriendly” and mean something different.
    • How to put words together. For example, in English, we say, “Mary walked to the new store” instead of “Mary walk store new.”
    • What we should say at different times. For example, we might be polite and say, “Would you mind moving your foot?” But, if the person does not move, we may say, “Get off my foot!”
    • Phonological awareness-This is the ability to recognize and work with sounds in spoken language (includes rhyming, segmenting/blending sounds in words, etc.)  

    *Information gathered from www.asha.org*

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  • What is Speech?

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    Speech is how we say sounds and words. Speech includes:

    How we make speech sounds using the mouth, lips, and tongue. For example, we need to be able to say the “r” sound to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit.”

    How we use our vocal folds and breath to make sounds. Our voice can be loud or soft or high- or low-pitched. We can hurt our voice by talking too much, yelling, or coughing a lot.

    This is the rhythm of our speech. We sometimes repeat sounds or pause while talking. People who do this a lot may stutter.


    *Information gathered from www.asha.org*

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