An overview of the Do's and Don'ts of AAC

AAC basics Core words Modeling Tips
1 minute read | December 9, 2015

Implementing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is not easy so we created a poster and overview series of blog posts about the do's and don'ts of implementing AAC.

There are practices in AAC implementation that lead to better outcomes for every individual with complex communication needs.

There are also practices that lead to poorer outcomes for those same individuals. As we always focus on communication for all, we felt it was important to address both the do's and don'ts together. Sometimes addressing only the good practices might mean the bad ones don’t get tackled too!

Below we list the essential do's and don'ts with accompanying blog posts or articles to read for more in-depth information.


Use the AAC system to talk yourself

Aim high

Use a well designed, comprehensive vocabulary (core vocabulary or PODD)

Provide wait time

Ask open-ended questions

Focus on key words when modeling

Respect multimodal communication

Allow exploration and access to the whole vocabulary

Make sure AAC is available all day, every day

Describe what you want to say using core words


Expect the AAC user to communicate without you modelling how

Demand prerequisite skills

Provide an AAC system with only a handful of choices

Do all the talking

Ask questions the AAC user knows you already know the answer to

Think you always need to model grammatically correct sentences

Say "now use your talker"

Create custom pages for specific activities

Limit access to the AAC system

Focus on adding lots of vocabulary

Remember, communication is a human right, fundamental to literacy development and participation in education, and occurs all day, every day. We are all responsible for making sure this happens for everyone.

Get the poster

Download the AAC Do's and Don'ts poster (PDF)

View the presentation given by David Niemeijer and Jane Farrall at AGOSCI 2015 that inspired this blog post series and poster.