Communicating with an AC User

Strategies to Use When Communicating With a Person Who Uses Augmentative Communication

Some of the rules for having a conversation change when we are speaking with someone who uses augmentative or alternative communication (AAC). 

Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Speak respectfully to the person who is using AAC. Use a natural tone, volume, and rate.
  • Ask the person to show you how they communicate “yes” and “no”.
  • Ask the person if they have a communication display or device.
  • Ask if you can get the display or device out of their bag.
  • Ask the person to demonstrate use of the display or device.
  • Ask the person to demonstrate their signal that they have something to communicate.
  • Give the person the opportunity and time to communicate.
  • Repeat the message back to the person to ensure that you have understood the intended message.
  • Put the message into a sentence and ask for confirmation.
  • Focus on what the person communicates, not just on how they communicate.

Collier, B.M. (2000). Communicating Matters: A training guide for personal attendants working with consumers who have enhanced communication needs. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. 

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