Augmentative and Alternative Communication is often thought of in terms of the device that the individual uses. In reality, though, effective use of AAC is much more than just a voice output system – it’s the network of techniques, strategies, and supports that aid an individual in their expressive language development.
Techniques are what can be thought of as current best practices in intervention – and we say “current” because our knowledge is always changing! Techniques like modeling and prompting, for example, are both very important, but recent research indicates that modeling may be more effective.
EFFECTIVE USE OF AAC IS MUCH MORE THAN A VOICE OUTPUT SYSTEM
Strategies are broader concepts about how we teach and support the use of AAC, such as Aided Language Input, which we will talk about elsewhere.
Supports include an AAC “modality,” which can be a high-tech voice output device or a low-tech option like a picture exchange system or sign language. The most critical – and sometimes forgotten – supports are the people all around the AAC user! Research indicates that training of communication partners, both in and outside of school, is one of the top predictors of success for children using AAC, and it stands to reason that the same would be true for adults. In fact, we believe so strongly about training communication partners that it’s the primary mission of this website.