What is Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)?
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) has been defined by the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC):
“AAC is a set of tools and strategies that an individual uses to solve everyday communicative challenges. Communication can take many forms such as: speech, a shared glance, text, gestures, facial expressions, touch, sign language, symbols, pictures, speech-generating devices, etc. Everyone uses multiple forms of communication, based upon the context and our communication partner. Effective communication occurs when the intent and meaning of one individual is understood by another person. The form is less important than the successful understanding of the message”
AAC covers a huge range of techniques which support, or replace, spoken communication.
> Word boards
> Communication boards
> Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) Communication Matters
There is no ‘best’ type of AAC system. Each has pros and cons – the most suitable one for an individual will depend on their personal preference, situation and their abilities and needs. Specialist assessment will help to identify the most appropriate AAC system(s).
Information on AAC systems and the NEW Devon AAC Intervention Service can be found on the Vranch House website: https://www.vranchhouse.org/what-we-do/clinical-services/augmentative-or-alternative-communication-aac/
The North, East or West Devon (‘NEW’) Devon AAC Intervention Service will consider referrals if the child’s GP address falls within which excludes Torbay and Plymouth.
The referral criteria and form for the NEW Devon AAC Intervention Service is on the Vranch House website: https://www.vranchhouse.org/what-we-do/clinical-services/augmentative-or-alternative-communication-aac/
The NEW Devon AAC Intervention Service is only commissioned to provide a high-tech AAC service, but to promote the Total Communication approach, some children referred to the service also benefit from using low-tech alongside high-tech systems, these may include Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), objects of reference, core word boards. Low-tech AAC is usually supported by the community SLT team.
The Makaton Charity: https://www.makaton.org/ has lots of information and resources, as well as a weekly ‘Sign of the Week’ feature which includes a how-to video and printout, which our staff and pupils enjoy using here at Vranch House School.
If a child is open to the NEW Devon AAC Intervention Service, the child’s team will receive training, advice and guidance to support the introduction to high-tech AAC. These appointments take place virtually, unless a face-to-face session is required.
Lots of our information has been taken from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RSCLT) website – https://www.rcslt.org/speech-and-language-therapy/clinical-information/augmentative-and-alternative-communication/#section-1