Low-tech augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) refer to communication systems that do not require the use of electronic devices or technology. These options can be helpful for individuals with communication difficulties.  

Augmentative means to add to someone's speech, and alternative means to be used instead of speech. AAC aims to maximise a person’s communication skills for functional and effective communication of their needs, preferences, and wishes, in all communication settings.

Benefits of low tech AAC is that it is affordable and can be relatively easy to create and use if clinical or technical support is not on hand. 

Some disadvantages include the fact that there is no auditory feedback for the user, and it generally has limited vocabulary, often with a heavy reliance on nouns.

Here are some low-tech AAC options:

1. Picture Communication Symbols (PCS)

PCS are a standardised set of simple, easy-to-understand pictures that represent objects, actions, and concepts. These symbols can be used to create communication boards, charts, or books. 

2. Communication boards

Communication boards are physical boards or charts with pictures, symbols, or words representing common phrases, requests, or choices. They can be customised to meet an individual’s specific needs and preferences. 

3. Visual schedules

Visual schedules use pictures or symbols to represent the sequence of activities or tasks throughout the day. They provide a visual structure and help individuals understand what will happen next. 

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4. PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System

PECS is a communication system that involves exchanging pictures or symbols to make requests or express communication needs. It typically starts with the individual handing a picture to a communication partner, who then honours the request.  

5. Gesture and Sign Language 

Basic gestures or simple sign language can be used to communicate basic needs or preferences. Common gestures, such as pointing or nodding, can be taught to facilitate communication. 

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6. Communication Books 

Communication books are physical or digital collections of pictures, symbols, or words that individuals can use to express their thoughts, needs, or preferences. They can be organised by categories or topics for easy reference. 


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7. Visual Aids

Visual aids such as labelled objects, can help individuals with communication difficulties identify and express their needs. For example, having a drawer labelled “snacks” can prompt the individual to point to or retrieve a snack. 

Remember, the effectiveness of low-tech AAC options may vary depending on an individual’s needs and abilities. It is important assess and tailor the AAC system to the specific requirements of the person using it. 

Consulting with a speech pathologist can provide valuable guidance and support. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Hanrahan Health via email admin@hanrahanhealth.com.au or via phone (02) 4862 5063 if you have any questions about AAC.