This textbook is intended to serve as the primary text for graduate courses in augmentative and alternative communication. The book contains 13 chapters—the ideal length for a 13-week semester course—that together provide a complete, in-depth overview of the topic. Each chapter includes a section with practical applications and possible class activities. The author of this textbook has practiced and conducted research in AAC and AAC-related matters since the 1990s and has taught AAC courses at university level (graduate level) since 2000. Because the nature of the field (which is in many ways linked to developing technology) is quickly evolving, the author recognized that what is needed is not so much a “state of the art” book (which will be, by definition, outdated within a short period) but rather a book that provides a framework about how communication is shaped by internal and external factors (including technology) and how communication affects social functioning as well as other (mainly cognitive) functions. In this text, the author refers to psycholinguistics, communication sciences, social psychology, and other disciplines to explain AAC and provide students with a thorough knowledge of the subject.
Primary Subject: Speech and Language Pathology / Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Secondary Subject: Speech and Language Pathology / Language Development and Disorders
Audience Level: Academic
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Augmentative and Alternative Communication: A General Introduction
This chapter situates AAC within the study of communication and communication disorders. It describes the most important concepts and provides terminology. The reader/student will learn some of the crucial issues that permeates the practice of intervention with and use of AAC.
Chapter 2: Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Access, and
AAC is essentially a manipulation of the connections between (1) internal message construction, (3) lexical retrieval, and (3) physical access and activation. Three central issues are discussed in this chapter: (1) the speed of access, (2) the availability of choices and lexical selection, and (3) modes of expression that match a person’s abilities.
Chapter 3: The Use of Symbols
An essential aspect of AAC is the use of alternative symbolic representations. These are often in graphic (so-called pictograms) or in gestural form (manual signs). The nature of symbol selection is discussed in this chapter – the many applications (and implications) for use in AAC are discussed.
Chapter 4: Pre-symbolic Development
In individuals with typical development, communication starts on day one and develops into a combination of linguistic and non-linguistic communication between 12 and 18 months. Individuals with severe developmental limitations may remain limited to this pre-linguistic (and pre-symbolic) level. AAC intervention can provide essential help through techniques of reinforcement, behavior selection, and by providing consistent environmental responses.
Chapter 5: Vocabulary and Augmentative and Alternative Communication
One of the main challenges in the use of AAC is the limitation in either lexicon (or message) size or speed of lexical (or message) access. Which words (symbols, manual signs) to teach, enter in a device? In order to understand this problem one needs to understand the principles of lexical access in normal populations and the need to teach strategies to AAC users “to do more with less”.
Chapter 6: Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Assessment
Although AAC is a fast growing segment in the field of speech language pathology, special education, and rehabilitation, there are virtually no normed assessment tools available to determine a person’s AAC-related abilities, or to predict success. This chapter explores this problem and offers a number of solutions.
The chapter also refers to issues related to reporting and funding.
Chapter 7: Acquired Communication Disorders and Augmentative and Alternative
The number of individuals with acquired communication disabilities who need AAC will continue to grow. At this point, my estimate is that this number has already passed the number of children needing and using AAC. This chapter discusses the specific issues of AAC intervention for this growing group.
Chapter 8: Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Language
AAC-intervention can be targeted (simultaneously) to (1) improving the depth and content of communication, (2) facilitating cognitive growth, and (3) facilitating the acquisition and mastery of language. The chapter discusses and explains why individuals who use AAC may show unusual language performance, and whether this should (or should not) be considered deviant language. The chapter discusses intervention how to set intervention goals for language intervention through AAC.
Chapter 9: Augmentative and Alternative Communication and the Community
In each individual case, success and failure of AAC is highly dependent on attitudes, expectations, opportunities, traditions, and culture. The purpose of this chapter is to make the reader/student aware of these factors and how it is important to take these into account when assessing promise of process and anticipating (and eliminating) barriers to success.
Chapter 10: Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Natural
Will a person who is using AAC lose the ability to learn and use natural speech? This incompatibility hypothesis is widespread. Every practitioner is confronted with these questions and needs to be aware of the evidence as well as the mechanisms and the dynamics of how different modalities (speech and non-speech) interact.
Chapter 11: Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Literacy
This chapter explains why literacy goals should be intervention objectives for a major group (certainly the younger users) of AAC users. Within the field of AAC, literacy has only recently come on the scene. Presently, literacy education is intrinsically connected with both academic and real-world functional use of AAC.
Chapter 12: The Use of Non-tech, Low-tech, and High-tech. What Should
We Do with It?
This chapter provides the reader/student with a classification and typology of critical features in technology. The chapter is built in such a way that the reader/student can acquire a framework that will help in evaluation ongoing and future new development in (assistive) technology (including the developments in tablet and cell phone technology).
Chapter 13: The Augmentative and Alternative Communication Experience
This chapter looks into issues such as emotional connectedness, personal aspirations, life satisfaction, and how AAC can play a role in enhancing quality of life. It is important that (future) professionals are aware of this perspective.
About the Author
Filip Loncke, Ph.D.
Filip Loncke has practiced and conducted research in AAC and AAC-related matters since the 1990s and taught AAC courses at University level (graduate level) since 2000.