AAC - Augmentative Alternative Communication

What Augmentative Alternative Communication is

Augmentative Alternative Communication is a set of solution to improve e make easier the people communication. “Augmentative” word is referred to augment the communication talent peculariar to man while “Alternative” is related to large use of communication strategies different then traditional ones.

The Disability Observatory of Piemonte County [it] describes the AAC like the set of knowledgement, technics, strategies and technologies can be mixed to simplify the communication with people having transitory or permanent speak disease.


AAC was defined in North America around the 1965. It became an important component of rehabilitation exercises. In few time, it spread over in the english language countries. Todate, in the rest of Europe it is still few used.

In 1983, the international society to promote research and knoledge of AAC was founded: International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) [en]. It organizes a biennal international conference and edits the Augmentative and Alternative Communication journal and The Isaac Bullettin.

In the last decade, AAC attracts the attention of the italian medicine centers [La Comunicazione Alternativa e Aumentativa. Esperienze in regioni di lingua italiana, Scascighini G., 1997, Edition SZH/SPC, Lucerna].

Important experiences were exposed to HANDImatica 2006 conference. Lectures of the “Ezio Giacich” institute exposed the Denis' life. He is a children with a genetic disease to reduce his capability to move. Denis can interact with people thanks to a virtual keyboard (La comunicazione aumentativa e alternativa: oltre il muro del silenzio - The Augmentative Alternative Communication: over the wall of the silence [it]).

Symbol-based Systems

This kind of systems use a set of signs with similar features (such as colors, lines, and so on). Typical examples are the traffic signs, the rail signals: thanks to standard symbols these images provide indications about rules and instructions. The traffic lights are a well-known example: three colors, a rectangular box and a pole to define a behaviour code. The most common symbol-base systems used in AAC are: Core Picture Dictionary, Picture Communication Symbols (PCS), PicSym, Bliss.

Who Benefits

The wide range of AAC approaches and methods includes solutions for pathologies such as autism, mental deficiency, dysphasia, Alzheimer's disease. They may be used by people of all ages who have difficult to communicate by speech. AAC may be used for a short time, for example to help rehabilitation after an operation, while other ones use AAC all their lives. A survey on AAC application and the evaluation of the best method in base of each case is the Master's Degree desertation of Laura Rossi ("La competenza Comunicativa in Comunicazione Aumentativa/Alternativa nei bambini con Paralisi Cerebrale Infantile" [it], University of Bologna).