Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the term used to describe a range of different methods of communication which can be used alongside or instead of speech and writing when someone is experiencing difficulty with these.
AAC includes a wide range of different activities, including: facial expression, eye pointing, gesture, signing, use of symbol systems, spelling out messages on a letter board, use of a tablet, computer or electronic speech output aid.
AAC can be a way to help someone understand what is said to them, as well as a means of expression.
The AAC Service in County Durham and Darlington offers:-
A specialised, multi-agency assessment to help identify if someone would benefit from using an AAC system and if so, which AAC system(s) would be most appropriate. There is no ‘best’ type of AAC system. Each has its own pros and cons. Identifying the most suitable one for an individual will depend on their personal preferences as well as on their abilities and needs. The assessment will also take into account any physical, cognitive and sensory difficulties present.
A trial of AAC equipment to establish if the proposed equipment is appropriate for the individual's communication needs in a variety of different situations and environments. Several different pieces of equipment or software may need to be trialled before the most suitable are identified.
The provision of AAC equipment on a long term loan basis (funded jointly by Health and Education services) following a successful trial with AAC equipment which has been agreed by the multi-agency team. (Children/Young People must live in County Durham or Darlington to access Education funding and must be registered with a County Durham or Darlington General Practitioner (GP) to access Health funding.)
Support, training and therapy input as appropriate to help develop the individual's skills and those of parents/carers and education staff so that they can make most effective use of the communication aid equipment provided.