Understanding the Types of AAC Devices

Social Skills Weekly Journal
February 22, 2017
Social Skills Weekly Journal
March 6, 2017

The development of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices in recent years has helped individuals with communication disorders (including autism) to express themselves more effectively than ever before. There are many AAC devices to choose from, ranging from simple buttons to much more sophisticated systems. Here, we share more information on AAC devices, including the different types available.

Digitalized Speech vs. Synthesized Speech

AAC devices help individuals “talk” with the aid of either digitized speech or synthesized speech. Digitized speech devices use recorded human speech while synthesized speech devices use computer-generated speech. Each type has benefits and limitations. Digitized devices are more natural-sounding but may be limited to certain users because they can only say words or phrases that have been pre-programmed onto the device. Synthesized speech devices provide a wider vocabulary because they are able to sound out words the user types.

Simple Message Devices

Simple message devices allow one (or a few) short messages to be recorded. These communication devices are really useful for quick and simple communication. Most children are able to use these devices easily. Some simple message devices are designed with large buttons, making them accessible for children with significant physical disabilities.

Static Display Devices

Static display devices store a limited set of messages, but are still able to store more messages than simple devices. These devices usually use picture symbols that present messages or words on the buttons on the display. Static display devices can come with several displays or pages that represent different themes and can be used for specific activities. For example, one page may have pictures that present words and phrases solely associated with eating and that the child can use during meal times.

Dynamic Display Devices

Among AAC devices, dynamic display devices allow for the largest amount of storage of words and messages. Because of the large vocabulary they store, dynamic display devices tend to use synthesized speech. These devices come with a digital touch screen that allows the user to access a large number of vocabulary pages.

There are two types of dynamic display devices: dedicated and computer-based. Dedicated devices are manufactured to be communication aids only, while computer-based devices are tablets, laptops or mobile phones with special communication software installed.

Are you interested in learning more about AAC devices and whether your child can benefit from one? The qualified therapists at Innovative Speech Language Pathology are trained and knowledgeable in AAC devices. A member of our team can discuss your options with you and determine the one that best fits your child’s needs. To schedule an appointment, please call our Beverly Hills office at (310) 659-9511.