AAC – or augmentative and alternative communication – can be broadly thought of as any non-speech form of communication. The “augmentative” versions are those that enhance our existing ability to communicate – like text messaging on a cellphone. The “alternative” versions are those that replace an absent ability, like Stephen Hawking’s speech generating device, or a picture exchange system used by a young child with Autism.
That second category – the alternatives – are usually what people visualize when they think of AAC. All of us, though, are AAC users – even written language is a form of augmentative communication. The extent to which we rely on AAC, though, varies by individual. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association estimates that there are two million people in the United States alone who rely on AAC to communicate.That’s about half of a percent of the population, which may not sound like much, but it’s equal to the population of San Francisco, California and Dallas, Texas combined.
With that many people using AAC, it’s surprising that we don’t talk about it more – so here at DiscoverAAC, that’s what we’ve decided to do. Our site is designed to provide a full picture of what successful AAC use can look like throughout the lifetime.
It’s also designed to grow and change based on the contributions and feedback of the community. We strongly believe that the best predictor of success in AAC is adequate training and support for the families, schools, and other caregivers in the life of an AAC user. For that reason, AAC should be thought of as more than just a speech generation device. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that often includes a device but also includes the strategies, techniques, and training necessary to achieve the best possible outcomes.
On behalf of the whole team here, welcome, and thanks for listening. Let’s start discovering together!