Disability & Augmentative and Alternative Communication

An Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) system is any type of communication strategy which provides a way for people who have significant difficulties speaking to communicate their needs, preferences and ideas. 


Many different conditions can result in a person have little to no speech and requiring an AAC to communicate.

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Intellectual disability

  • Autism

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Motor neuron disease

  • Severe aphasia

  • Acquired brain injury

  • Burns

  • Surgery after cancer

  • Trauma

  • Being intubated in intensive care units in hospital.

The impact

The impact of communication impairments can range from being temporary, deteriorating in nature or to lasting a lifetime. Even a mild communication impairment can have a significant impact on a person’s everyday home, work and social interactions.


People with a communication impairment can suffer from frustration, anger, embarrassment or grief as they attempt to communication their needs, emotions and opinions. Early intervention by a Speech Pathologist is critical in reducing the long term implications of many people living with a communication impairment.



How can Speech Pathologists help?


Speech pathologists are the trained specialists that assess, advise, treat and advocate for people with communication impairments and their families. People who have significant difficulty speaking as a result of a range of conditions may be advised to use an augmentative and alternative communication device. Speech Pathologists are the key professionals involved in designing options for AAC systems and making recommendations on which AAC system would be best for each individual.

Did you know?

  • People with autism, down syndrome and cerebral palsy often being their life with a communication impairment.

  • At least 30% of people post stroke suffer from loss of language

  • 85% of those with Parkinson’s disease have voice and speech difficulties.

  • 13,000 Australians use electronic communication aids to express what they want to say.