October is AAC awareness month. Awareness is not just about being aware of something’s existence, but also about embracing and accepting what it has to offer. In this post, we’ll be touching on the basics of AAC.

What Is AAC?

AAC refers to any aided or unaided form of communication. Unaided communication refers to means of communication that uses the communicator’s body only. Everyone uses this form of AAC daily. It can refer to facial expressions, body posture or signs and gestures. Aided forms of communication utilize tools and aids for communication apart from the communicator’s body. This can be through switches, communication boards, speech-generating devices and many more.

High Tech AAC Vs Light Tech AAC

Aided forms of AAC can be further divided into high tech and light tech options. High tech AAC usually uses an iPad/tablet or electronic device and may have a digital voice that speaks aloud (also referred to as a speech-generating device). Light tech AAC refers to printed communication boards or books. It can also be called “paper-based AAC” and was previously referred to as “low-tech” AAC. Everyone can benefit from both high and light tech AAC. They can be used interchangeably and in conjunction with one another. Especially with load shedding in South Africa, having a light tech communication book in case the speech-generating device is not available or not charged.

Who Is It For?

Anyone can benefit from AAC, it is not specific to age, gender, nationality or sociocultural background. The main aim of AAC is to empower users to communicate because everyone deserves an opportunity to communicate. Just because someone does not have a voice (or does not have a voice yet) does not mean they do not want to communicate. In the words of Janice Light, “communication is the essence of human life.”

Myths vs Facts

There are many assumptions made about AAC that cannot be backed up by scientific evidence. Let’s take a look at some of them.

In Conclusion

Each experience with AAC should be as unique as the person using it to communicate. Individualized and holistic intervention strategies have proven to result in the best long-term utilization of AAC as a means to communicate. Everyone’s voice sounds different, regardless of how they communicate, and AAC is no different.