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8 Strategies for Effective Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)

Posted on July 4, 2019 by Ann

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Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) refers to all forms of communication that enhance or supplement verbal speech or writing. It is an internationally recognised area of clinical and educational practice that attempts to compensate, temporarily or permanently, for significant speech, language, and writing disabilities (NIDRR Consensus Statement, 1992).

Earlier this year, the Specialised ATC, SPD published AAC for Caregivers Manual in conjunction with their ongoing AAC for Caregivers programme.

The manual introduces 8 strategies designed to help caregivers and professionals facilitate more effective communication with their children/individuals under their care. It also helps to foster stronger relationships.

Here is a summary of the 8 strategies:

1. Use the aided language stimulation approach, by pointing out picture symbols on a communication display in conjunction with ongoing language stimulation.

2. Use the 4 Ls (Look and Listen to the individuals, Learn about their interests and hopes, and let them Lead the interaction.

3. Teach core vocabulary (words that are frequently used in our daily lives).

4. Provide a wait time (up to 45 seconds) so that the individuals can claim more conversation turns and use more words.

5. Follow a hierarchy of prompts (from the least intrusive to the most intrusive; wait, gesture, state, suggest, say and assist).

6. Incorporate AAC strategies in daily routines.

7. Personalise the individuals’ AAC systems to make it their voices.

8. Make sure that the AAC devices are with the individuals at all times.

You can find detailed suggestions for where, when and how to use the strategies in the manual. These strategies have been trialed and adapted to the local context. The manual is appropriate for Singapore, Malaysia and possibly the South East Asia region/culture.

AAC for Caregivers Manual can be downloaded here and used as a resource for caregivers or professionals working with individuals who use AAC.

Professionals can try out the strategies with the individual under their care or guide caregivers through the strategies in their intervention sessions.


SPD is an All In Preferred Partner.

SPD is a charity in Singapore set up to help people with disabilities of all ages to maximise their potential and integrate them into mainstream society.

The Specialised ATC in SPD conducts assessments and intervention for people with disabilities who need Assistive Technology to live, learn, work and play. They also provide training for caregivers and professionals who actively engage with persons with disabilities. For more information about the AAC for Caregivers program, please email atc@spd.org.sg.


All the content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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