Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)

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What to expect

Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)

Speech and language therapy helps to improve and develop speech, language and communication. For individuals who have extremely limited communication, our speech and language therapists may introduce Alternative and Augmentative Communication.

What is Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)?

Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) is a term which describes different forms of communication other than speech.

How can communication problems impact on an individual's life?

An individual who has little or no speech or those who have very limited communication will benefit from using AAC. Having limited communication will have a dramatic impact on an individual's life and their ability to communicate effectively with others. A communication problem will impact on an individual's life in a variety of ways as it will cause problems communicating with others in their social, home and educational environments. Having a communication problem can lead to emotional problems such as depression and lack of confidence. Communication problems may also affect the individual's ability to socially participate and cause social anxiety. Communication problems will impact the individual and also their families in different ways and will be dependent on each individual person.

How can speech and language therapy use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) to improve an individual's communication?

Speech and language therapy will improve the individual's ability to communicate more effectively. The speech and language therapist may use a variety of AAC systems when supporting an individual's communication. The types of AAC which are used in therapy will depend on the severity of the individual's communication problem, the underlying cause of their communication problem and also their overall ability. Speech and language therapy will improve communication through different methods of AAC which include:

  • Symbol systems.
  • Signing and gesture systems.
  • Text based (written or computer generated text).
  • Low tech communication aids (e.g. ABC charts).
  • High tech communication aids (e.g. voice synthesizers and computer aids).

What are the benefits of Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)?

The main benefit of AAC is helping the individual to communicate effectively with others. There are many other benefits of using AAC which include:

  • Allowing the individual to communicate more effectively with others around them.
  • Allowing the individual to understand what others are communicating.
  • Allowing the individual to express their thoughts, needs and ideas.
  • Allowing the individual to participate in everyday tasks which require communication.
  • Emotional benefits e.g. increasing self-esteem and self-confidence when communicating.
  • Increasing the individual's ability to participate in social activities.
  • Improving their quality of life.
  • Helping them to access their educational and work environments to their full potential.

Our speech and language therapists work with both adults and children who require the use of Alternative and Augmentative Communication. Speech and language therapy will help each individual to communicate to the best of their ability.

How do I book an appointment with a speech and language therapist?

If you would like any more information on Alternative and Augmentative Communication, or would like to book an appointment with one of our speech and language therapists then please call 0330 0885 643.

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Next steps

To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email


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All our speech and language therapists are registered with the RCSLT and the HCPC

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