Augmentative & Alternative Communication

‘Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the term used to describe methods of communication which can be used to add to the more usual methods of speech and writing when these are impaired.

AAC includes unaided systems such as signing and gesture, as well as aided techniques ranging from picture charts to the most sophisticated computer technology currently available. AAC can be a way to help someone understand, as well as a means of expression’

(What is AAC?  Communication Matters)

‘AAC is both a means of accessing an educational curriculum and language in its own right. It is appropriate for individuals who have difficulty with receptive and expressive language due to physical, sensory or learning disability. It provides an opportunity to attain emotional, social, educational and vocational goals.’

(Developing augmentative and alternative communication policies in schools – Information and Guidelines.  ACE Centre advisory trust)

For adults AAC “increases independence, reduces the need for personal assistance and prevents or reduces health problems”

(Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People)

It also reduces social isolation and emotional and psychological problems.

The need for AAC can occur at any stage of life, from a birth disability such as cerebral palsy, to an accident or illness (such as MND) later in life.

AAC may include a voice output communication aid such as that used by Professor Stephen Hawking or a communication board or book which may include symbols and or be text based. AAC is not used by people whose only impairment is in relation to their hearing. For more information see The Power of Communication DVD

Further information is available on the following links - 1Voice organise activities for children, young people and adults who use AAC to get together. There is a branch of 1 Voice in Cumbria – contact

There is  currently an AAC working group putting together the proposals for Cumbria AAC Team

For more information

For children - contact Helen Dixon – in South Cumbria ,

Suzanne Giles  - in North Cumbria

For adults contact Tessa Pemberton –

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