Augmentative communication is any way we communicate that augments or supplements speech.  It is all of the methods we use to interact other than speech.  We all use augmentative communication techniques such as gestures, facial expression, vocalizations, writing and body language.  Individuals with disabilities may use all of these techniques as well as some additional ones created for people with disabilities such as communication devices with voice output, non-electronic communication displays and books, and sign language.  Displays and devices often contain words, phrases, and letters that the user selects to allow him / her to interact. 

Carol Schaeffler
Augmentative Communication Specialist

What is augmentative and alternative communication?

A communication display or device may be the primary way a person interacts or may supplement the user's speech when it is not understood.  Individuals who use augmentaive communication techniques often produce some speech.  For some, augmentative communication strategies are used to teach language skills and / or to stimulate speech production.  The field of augmentative communication stresses utilizing all forms of communication an individual is capable of using.  It focuses on the need to develop effective communication skills as the inability to interact may cause social, intellectual and language delays.   

The use of augmentative communication techniques will not interfere with speech development.  In fact, it may increase speech intelligibility and use.  It will decrease the frustration of being unable to interact.

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