What is AAC?

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an important clinical intervention for many people with motor neurone disease (MND).

This information is for health and social care professionals working with people with MND. It provides suggestions for best practice in AAC provision, and where to find more information.

The term Augmentative and Alternative Communication covers a wide range of techniques and communication aids that support or replace spoken and/or written communication. These may be used to communicate face-to-face or remotely, for example through social media, email or instant messaging.

AAC is commonly used to refer to electronic communication aids and products (high-tech) but equally it includes simple, non-electronic (low-tech) options.

  • Low-tech examples of AAC include pen and paper, gesture, signing, symbols, communication charts, and letter, word or picture boards or books.
  • High-tech examples include voice output communication aids (VOCAs) and specialist soft and hardware on mainstream computers.

Low-tech AAC systems can often prove more effective than high-tech systems. Such options should always be considered in MND, even if high-tech options are being explored or used. People may use both high and low-tech systems, depending on a given situation.

Increasingly, AAC technology should be compatible with other assistive technologies, such as environmental control systems. However, AAC is not simply about access to a computer and must have communication as its primary outcome.

Benefits and challenges of AAC

If you would like more information about AAC, please contact our Communication Aids Coordinator or our MND Connect helpline.

For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262