Milwaukee Public Schools

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An Overview of Alternative Augmentative Communication

Milwaukee Public Schools

Augmentative communication means to augment or add to a person’s communication skills. If a student in unable to speak, is highly unintelligible or speaks minimally, alternative augmentative communication strategies should be considered.

Perhaps a student will communicate basic needs by pointing to pictures or by using a communication device that speaks messages that are selected. While using a communication device, the student will continue developing language and communication skills. A student may use a combination of methods, such as manual signs, intelligible speech utterances, picture communication boards or voice output communication devices. Initially, considerable emphasis may be placed on the type of augmentative communication used, until functional communication is achieved.
Some students use augmentative communication strategies and devices for brief periods while speech skills increase. Other students may not develop clear speech and rely on alternative augmentative communication devices as part of a life-long communication strategy.
Students in the Milwaukee Public Schools have their alternative augmentative communication needs addressed by their teacher, speech language pathologist and/or other support personnel. For schools that need information or additional support developing alternative augmentative communication strategies, the Assistive Technology/Alternative Augmentative Communication office provides a wide variety of augmentative communication support services.
Alternative augmentative communication support staff, at the MPSSSC, offer the following services:

  1. Alternative augmentative communication consultations regarding students, resources, devices and materials;

  2. In-school assisted alternative augmentative communication assessments;

  3. Ongoing follow-up and support for speech language pathologists and students with alternative augmentative communication needs;

  4. Inservice training with follow-up support;

  5. An alternative augmentative communication lending library with a wide range of devices and materials;

  6. A variety of alternative augmentative communication tubs filled with resources and materials available for check-out;

  7. Personal orientations to the alternative augmentative communication services and supports;

  8. Funding support for students ready to own AAC equipment (usually near the time of graduation).

The Assistive Technology/Alternative Augmentative Communication office is located at the Milwaukee Public Schools School Support Center, 6620 West Capitol Drive. For more information about alternative augmentative communication and the Milwaukee Public Schools, call Cindy Dean at 438-3549 or email at

Created by MPS/AT/AAC; revised 12/06
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