Augmentative and Alternatve Communication: Part 3

Over the past two weeks we’ve discussed augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, means of communication used by individuals who lack the ability to communicate effectively through speech. In our most recent blog, we discussed the different ways in which the user can operate the AAC device to choose what they want to say. Today, we’ll take a look at the different ways that AAC devices can represent the thoughts and ideas of the user to others.

Many AAC devices allow the user to communicate in their own words by allowing them to select letters and words to create sentences. Often, text-predictive software is used, making it easier for a user to complete text efficiently. The user’s writing can then be read by those with which he or she is communicating. Some high-tech AAC devices translate the user’s selected ideas, words, and phrases into computerized speech. These are known as speech generating devices (SGDs) or voice output communication aids (VOCAs).

Other devices allow the user to choose from predetermined symbols and pictures rather than text. These can be very literal, pictorial representations of an idea (e.g., a picture of a boy sleeping for “I’m tired”) or more abstract symbols. A commonly-used example of the latter is Blissymbols, Blissymbols is a system of visual communication consisting of several hundred somewhat abstract symbols which represent various concepts. These can be combined along with grammatical indicators to convey thoughts and ideas.

AAC users have been found to have more fulfilling interpersonal interactions and a greater variety of life activities. However, learning to use an AAC device can be a difficult task. A speech-language pathologist can help an individual make the transition to AAC use, and can provide insight and training into how to use the device to most effectively communicate with others. Through strategies and practice, the speech-therapist can help the AAC user learn to communicate with those around them and lead a fuller communicative life.

If you or someone you love has a problem with speech, language, or communication, contact Speech Associates of NY today for an evaluation. One of our trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help you on the road to better speech and communication. Call us at 917-841-2965 or visit us on the web:

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