What types of Assisted Augmentative Communication are available?

Eastside SpeechGeneral

There are 2 types of AAC- high tech and low tech- read below to have them explained.

1.Aided AAC

Aided AAC is any external item used to aid communication (Speech Pathology Australia, 2021). This includes, but is not limited to, communication boards, books, computers, mobile phones, tablets, or a speech generating device. 

Aided AAC can be split into two categories:

High tech AAC

High-tech AAC includes systems that involve computer components and software. This includes a speech generating device and apps on a tablet (such as an iPad). Some of the most common iPad apps used for AAC include LAMP, ProLoQuo, ProLoQuo4Text.  

Pros of high tech AAC:

  • Fully customisable 
  • Access to more vocabulary – many high-tech systems have thousands of words!
  • Promotes independence for the individual; they do not rely on their communication partner to communicate on their behalf. Establishes more universal modes of interaction. 
  • Auditory feedback for learning the language 
  • Can help develop motor patterns

Cons of high tech AAC:

  • Some devices can be quite heavy
  • Some devices can be quite expensive to purchase and maintain
  • Need to be charged

Low tech AAC

Low tech AAC includes any type of communication books, boards and any paper-based system. PECs (Picture Exchange Communication) may also be used as a more structured communication system.

Pros of low tech AAC:

  • No power charging required
  • Can be used in a range of environments (e.g. bath time; at the beach – where high tech AAC may not be as accessible) 
  • Can be easy to create and use (even without clinical or technical support) 
  • Affordable

Cons of low tech AAC:

  • Generally have limited vocabulary. The vocabulary is pre-determined and usually is based on situations, and therefore can be quite restrictive. 
  • Positions of words change in picture exchange systems, removing motor learning. 
  • No auditory feedback provided 
  • Tend to require more reliance and interaction with formally trained communication partners. 

2.Unaided AAC

Unaided AAC refers to communication techniques that the individual uses whatever is available to them, usually their own body. This includes eye contact, body language, gestures and signing. 

Key Word Sign (KWS) is one of the most commonly used unaided AAC techniques. 

KWS | Eastside Speech Solutions

Key Word Sign uses manual signs and natural gestures to support communication (Scope Australia, 2021). There is a core vocabulary of words, which is matched to an Auslan (Australian Sign Language) hand sign, to communicate concepts and ideas. 

Pros of Key Word Sign:

  • It is easily accessible – the individual just needs to use their body 
  • It encourages and supports language development 
  • It increases opportunities for communicative interactions 
  • It can be easier to produce than speech
  • Reduces any frustration the individual may be experiencing as it provides them with a way to communicate 

Cons of Key Word Sign:

  • The individual requires a certain level of coordination in order to integrate multiple movements into efficient movement. If an individual has difficulties with this, then KWS may be challenging.
  • Each country has its own sign language!

You might also be interested in Facts and Myths about AAC.