High-tech AAC or light-tech AAC? AAC for all situations

2 minute read

We asked members of our AssistiveWare’s Family members AAC community how they use both high-tech and light-tech AAC in their everyday life.

AAC users need different AAC tools: always available, always ready for communication anywhere! To support communication families can build a communication toolbox for their child.

The first thing in that toolbox is some form of high-tech AAC. It’s their AAC device - often an iPad with an AAC app like Proloquo or Proloquo2Go downloaded on it. These apps have all the words they need and words to explore. A high-tech AAC device to essential for our AAC users. But, there are also situations where light-tech AAC, also known as paper-based AAC, is needed. Paper-based AAC is a printed paper version of your AAC. It might be a single page taken from an iPad screenshot, or a few pages made into a book. It might be one of AssistiveWare’s core word boards.

We know that we need both high-tech and paper-based AAC for different reasons and different situations. Taking your AAC device in the pool or swimming might not be a great idea. And what happens when the AAC device is broken or runs out of power, and you don’t have a charger?

Light-tech AAC for messy activities

Messy play can be hard on a high-tech device, so having a paper-based version can come in handy! Play-Doh and sand can wreak havoc on electronic devices , so it’s good to have an alternative.

Ruby girl playing with a large Core Word board and Playdoh
Ruby, playing with Play-Doh, and pointing to a large printout of a Proloquo2Go page

Light-tech works best by the pool

Water can also be an issue for high-tech AAC use. Unless someone has a secure waterproof case, water can damage a device. In this type of situation, paper-based AAC can really come through. Some families stick pages to small kickboards or other floating items.

Ruby in a pool with an AAC book on the edge
A water-safe AAC alternative

Take paper-based AAC on the move

AAC devices can be heavy and bulky. Some families mention that it’s easier for their children to carry the paper-based pages when they are moving around and playing.

Some also feel it is easier and safer to use paper-based AAC in the car instead of a device. An unsecured device could become a projectile in case of an accident, whereas a paper version might be a safer choice.

A teenager holding a laminated Core Word Board in the car
Using a laminated Core Word Board in the car

Decorate with paper-based AAC

Other parents mentioned having core word posters in their children’s bedrooms as well as at the dinner table. Some AAC users prefer the closer interactions that happen when they are seated near their communication partner and sharing a paper-based AAC tool.

Get your own!

Would you like to know how to create your own paper-based AAC tool?? You can find our printable Core Word Boards here and instructions for making paper-based AAC here.We can keep high- tech AAC safe and ready to use while also using paper-based AAC tools. There are situations in which paper-based AAC tools are the practical solution.


Written by