Communication is not:

  • Symbol gathering
  • Technology gathering
  • Using someone else’s vocabulary
  • Identifying symbols
  • Matching symbols to objects
  • Pushing a button or switch

Communication is:

  • Using symbols to express wants, needs, medical information, feelings, to socialize and express humor.
  • Using AAC to meet basic wants and needs.
  • Using AAC to functionally communicate for independence.


  • Was the augmentative and alternative communication assessment completed by a team? Team assessment is essential for:
    • Getting support people on the same page regarding training objectives and goals
    • Follow-through
    • Ensuring constructive feedback is given for appropriate future modifications
  • Have the communication partners been trained as needed to help facilitate the individual’s communication skills? Is follow-up training needed?
  • Has the responsibility of programming the device been designated to the individual or specific communication partners? Is follow through evident?
  • Does the communication system need re-evaluation or revising?
  • Has training been provided to the individual to teach abstract symbols if needed? Concrete symbols are easier to learn, but the more abstract symbols may need to be taught.
  • Have you recorded some phrases and sentences when you could have used single words?
    • Remember: single words facilitate generative language, syntax, and literacy!
  • How do you know when the best AAC symbol system has been selected?
    • The individual is able to meet functional communication goals.
    • The individual can communicate basic wants and needs.

What are major goals to achieve?

  • Functional communication
  • Literacy (ultimate goal for independence)

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