Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)

Using Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) in mainstream schools for pupils who are unable to express themselves through speech

AAC covers a huge range of techniques which support or replace spoken communication. These include gesture, signing, symbols, communication boards and books, as well as powered and computerised devices such as voice output communication aids (VOCAs).

Inclusive Communication Essex (ICE) provides a loan library of communication support devices. Videos on how to use a range of available communication devices can be found here.

Case study – eye-gaze technology

The pupil has cerebral palsy, and during Year 2 he became increasingly frustrated by using a single switch to access a laptop. Specialist assessment by a speech and language therapist indicated that he was a potential user of eye-gaze technology. Initially a loan device was allocated from the Essex stock of equipment, but this proved to be rather limited, and a more portable device was identified. The equipment was provided jointly by social care, health and education, which reflected his need to use the device in all aspects of his life.

He practised developing his eye-gaze speed and accuracy skills through games such as Clouds and Smashing Bottles, before progressing to independent writing. The video clip below shows him (now in Year 5 and a proficient eye-gaze user) working securely within the Year 5 curriculum in his mainstream classroom.

Using eye-gaze technology (writing the date)

Case study – Using AAC with Connie (E-tran frame) – an illustrated account of how eye pointing can be established as a communication method through the use of an E-tran frame