What is AAC?

What is AAC?

What is AAC?


AAC first steps

If you’ve found us, you’re likely responsible for someone who struggles with communication, such as a child with autism who can’t speak, a spouse with ALS who can’t use their hands or voice, or a parent who suffered a stroke. You may have even heard about augmentative and alternative communication, also known as AAC.

Girl using a Tobii Dynavox I-Series and low tech AAC to talk with the people around her

A human right

The Communication Bill of Rights states that everyone has the right to learn to communicate, to be spoken with and not about, to know and ask about what’s happening to them and to make their preferences known. Everyone has the right to a communication system all the time and deserves to have a voice. For people with conditions that impact communication, AAC is the means of achieving this basic human right.

AAC is a tool, strategy, support or any form of communication used in addition to or in place of the spoken word.

Many possibilities

Augmentative communication comes in many forms and offers the ability to express oneself in whichever way works best. It’s usually a combination of the following solutions:

No Tech

Gestures, body language, facial expressions, pointing, signing and vocalizations.

Low Tech

Printed communication books or pages of symbols/text that can be pointed to.

High Tech

Touch screen tablets that convert symbols/text to speech or devices controlled by the eyes.

Our AAC vision

Our perspective on AAC can be summarized with a few concepts...

Man using a Tobii Dynavox I-Series to communicate

Everyone is able

You may have heard that the person in your care is too young, too old or too impaired to communicate. We believe that no one is ‘too anything’ to be able to communicate. What they’re currently capable of is the floor, not the ceiling, of their ability. There’s no way of knowing how far they can go until you try.

Small wins matter

Learning anything takes time. Sometimes we learn quickly and sometimes in small steps. It’s the same with AAC. Whether the person in your care learns quickly or takes time, every step is a win and builds on the last. Fear of doing it incorrectly shouldn’t keep you from starting or persisting, and we're here to accompany you along your journey to success.

SLP and child learning new things in school on a Tobii Dynavox AAC device

Young woman using here eye tracking device from Tobii Dynavox to communicate with her family

The power of teams

The first step starts with educating your communication team, the center of which is the person who uses AAC. The team also includes key people in their life, such as parents or a spouse, siblings, relatives, educators, caregivers and specialists, who all play a crucial role in modeling the best way to use your AAC tools. Empowering the team empowers your communicator.

The power to be you

Everyone has the potential to communicate, regardless of their challenges. We call it the ‘Power to be You’. Don't be afraid to raise your expectations. AAC is about having a voice, which means more than the ability to select from presented choices. It can empower a person who can’t speak to ask for and get attention, ask for what they want, share their feelings, and to be given real choices, which they can accept or reject.

Child and mom using their Tobii Dynavox Indi device

Important to know


You may have heard that AAC will prevent a child from learning to speak or an adult from regaining speech, but research shows the opposite is true. We’ve compiled a list of various AAC myths and the information debunking them.

Your AAC resource

No matter where you are in the process of exploring AAC, you’ve come to the right place. We have tools and expert help to address your concerns and questions, from choosing the right AAC system to getting its cost covered by insurance. We’re here for you when you’re ready to start.

Busting AAC myths

A list of the most common AAC myths and the science and expertise debunking them:

AAC will keep a person from talking

This myth is based on the belief that using AAC means giving up on natural speech. The truth is that AAC can increase speech production.

A child can be too young for AAC

This myth is based on the belief that introducing AAC at an early age will impede the development of natural speech. The truth is that AAC improves natural speech and grows language skills.

A person can be too old for AAC

This myth is based on the belief that you must learn to communicate and read when you’re young. The truth is that it’s possible to learn communication and literacy skills at any point in life.

A person can be too impaired to benefit from AAC

This myth is based on the assumption that a person’s cognitive and/or physical abilities are too severely impaired. The truth is that breathing is the only prerequisite for AAC – it can be used by anyone, regardless of diagnosis or impairment level.

AAC isn’t necessary for a person who already has some speech

This myth is based on the belief that having some speech is enough for basic communication. The truth is that limited speech makes it difficult for someone to express what they truly want or feel, and therefore limits their ability to participate in daily life.

AAC devices are only for people who can use their hands

This myth is based on the belief that equipment for accessing an AAC device is not medically necessary. The truth is that technology is improving all the time and people who need AAC and have difficulty using their hands have many solutions available to them, so there’s no reason to deny them access.

AAC will fix all communication difficulties

This myth is based on a belief that an AAC solution will enable instant communication. The truth is that implementing AAC is rarely a matter of simply putting a device down in front of someone and listening to all they have to say. AAC is a journey that takes time and persistence.

AAC can be provided too soon after a neurological event

This myth is based on the idea that use of AAC too soon after a neurological event can prevent regaining speech.

Low-tech AAC must be used before introducing high-tech devices

This myth is based on the assumption that a person needs to walk before they can run, so to speak. The truth is that the provision of AAC tools and techniques does not follow any order. It’s a series of decisions made and revisited regularly based on the individual’s current and future skills and needs.