• Assistive Technology for Communication

    Lori L. Goehrig, MS CCC-SLP


    What is AAC?

    Students with severe speech or language difficulties who cannot use verbal speech effectively and efficiently may need another way to communicate. They may need Augmentative Alternative Communication or AAC to:

    • learn language
    • share information
    • socialize with others

    AAC can range from paper-based communication boards to high-tech voice output communication devices. Once the IEP or 504 team conducts an evaluation following the SETT Framework, they use this information to determine which communication systems to trial with the student. For those students physically unable to point or use a touchscreen, IEP and 504 teams can explore other access methods, such as:

    • partner assisted scanning
    • eye gaze
    • head tracking
    • switch control with scanning

    View this video to learn about the different communication systems available to students: 

    teacher in front of chalkboard with text, low or no tech, mid tech, high tech

    AAC Systems

    12 minutes

    Teaching Language and Communication Using AAC

    Keep in mind, most students do not start communicating just because there is now a communication system in front of them.

    Just as typical children require years, beginning in infancy, to become fluent talkers, students learning to communicate using an AAC system require much time and support. For students to learn to communicate using symbols, others in their environment need to communicate in symbols too. Just use the students' communication systems as you talk with them. 

    Check out the videos below to learn more about it. Symbols for the videos come from LessonPix Custom Learning Materials.

    To explore these strategies more in-depth, visit the Project Core Website and complete the free online modules.

    image of project core overview module 1

  • Where Do I Start?

    Find out which words you should be teaching students on their communication systems.   

    teacher standing in front of the room beside a smart board with the following  text, core vocabulary, fringe vocabulary  

    What Words Should I Teach?

    5:30 minutes


    Don't forget to teach students the words needed to communicate for all the reasons we all communicate, especially socializing and building relationships with others.

    symbols depicting 15 different reasons to communicate

    Reasons to Communicate

    Adapted from Augmentative and Alternative Communication Clinic - One Kids Place - Ontario, Canada (2019)


    Find out how to model and use those words on students' communication systems.   

    Dad and daughter standing beside the car with communication device

    Loudon County Public Schools Assistive Technology

    Aided Language Stimulation English

    Aided Language Stimulation Spanish

    2:30 minutes

  • What Do I Actually Say?

    Find out how to teach students who have not yet realized they are supposed to be communicating, or those who are still using behaviors like crying or gesturing to communicate.

    Teacher standing in front of the room at a smart board with the following text, identifying and attributing meaning

    Identifying and Attributing Meaning

    4 minutes


    Find out two strategies to enhance vocabulary development and meaningful language in context.

    Teacher standing at the front of the room beside a chalkboard with text, self-talk and parallel talk

    Self-Talk and Parallel Talk

    5 minutes

  • What Else Do I Need to Know?

    Find out how much prompting you should be doing. You want to inspire students to communicate, not require them to communicate.

    Teacher standing in front of room by whiteboard with the text, prompting in aac, least to most

    Prompting in AAC

    7 minutes


     Find out how students with vision or motor challenges can learn language and communication.

    teacher in front of classroom beside chalkboard with text, partner assisted scanning

    Partner Assisted Scanning

    5 minutes


    Find out how students with motor challenges can learn language and communication.

    image of adult showing a symbol to a girl in a wheelchair

    Simple Eye Gaze Selection

    5 minutes


  • Fun Things to Talk About at Home

    Find out some activities and conversations that might interest you and your child. Talk about what you and your child are seeing, hearing, doing, thinking, or feeling. Model words on your child's communication system as you interact with him. Keep modeling and eventually, your child just might say something to you.

    picture of word document containing practical ideas and activities at home

    Practical Ideas and Activities at Home

    Adapted from AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom


     Find out more information about using an AAC device at home.

    picture of pdf document using an aac device at home

    Using an AAC Device at Home

    The Center for AAC & Autism


    Find out what it means to be a good communication partner for your AAC user.

    picture of document helping your child communicate with aac

    Partner Communication Strategies Booklet

    Augmentative and Alternative Communication Clinic - One Kids Place - Ontario, Canada (2019)