AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) is a means of helping people to communicate when they have severe difficulties with speech and language. This may be due to a physical or learning disability, a condition such as cerebral palsy or autism, or as the result of a stroke.
Augmentative communication supports verbal speech and language, while alternative communication replaces it.
There are many different ways to achieve this, and they can be broken down into four broad categories:
• unaided – does not require an external device. This includes sign language, gestures, facial expressions and vocalisations.
• aided – some sort of device, either electronic or nonelectronic, is used to transmit or receive messages, which may be:
• low-tech – systems of pictures, symbols, etc
• high-tech – sophisticated speech generating devices (SGD) and voice output communication aids (voca)
A speech therapist will be involved initially in helping to devise the best means to help the individual communicate. You can be referred by your GP or social services, or you can consult one privately.