What is augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)?
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a system that utilizes multiple components, such as symbols, gestures/signs, speech generating devices and various strategies, to support communication when children or adults need to compensate temporarily or permanently due to difficulties with or in the absence of speech and/or language skills. These tools and strategies can help an individual actively participate in their daily routine or become an independent communicator.
Low-tech AAC tools include:
- Manual signs
- Picture symbols
- Communication boards
High-tech AAC tools include:
- Speech generating devices – a device dedicated to communication that uses voice output to speak messages
- Tablets with a communication app
- Access to computers or other technology
What types of services are offered?
AAC evaluations to assess communication needs and identify an effective and efficient means of communication using low-tech or high-tech tools.
Training for patients and caregivers on implementation of low-tech and high-tech tools once they are recommended and received.
Evaluations to identify technology that helps individuals independently access a computer and/or phone for other methods of communication, such as e-mailing or texting. These tools may also be utilized to control smart devices in the home (e.g., tv, lights, doors, etc.).
The RiteCare Clinic offers an AAC preschool that uses a total communication approach, including manual signs, pictures, speech and low-tech and high-tech AAC, to help children aged 2 to pre-K increase their expressive communication.
The Young Adult Technology Group focuses on conversation skills, including asking and answering questions of others. Different topics are discussed monthly, such as how to solve a problem, getting along with someone who is annoying, having a job, asking someone out on a date, what to do in an emergency, etc. Technology, such as tablets and phones, is incorporated into activities to support intelligibility, look up information and have information read aloud if needed.
AAC specialists also provide educationally related AAC services for Omaha Public Schools to ensure children have an effective mode of communication to maximize learning.
Who benefits from AAC?
- Individuals who are unable to speak
- Individuals who speak but are difficult to understand
- Individuals who only use single words to communicate messages but should be using phrases or sentences
This can include individuals with the following medical diagnoses:
- Expressive Language Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy
- Down syndrome
- Developmental Delay
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Anoxic Brain Injury
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)