top of page

Augmentative Communication

Clicking on a Tablet

This page is in development.

When considering augmentative communication options, the process should begin with a comprehensive assessment. It is most often a team approach. Clients and their families collaborate with speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, augmentative communication specialists, medical staff, and education staff to evaluate:

  • participation needs

  • motivation

  • linguistic competencies

  • cognitive competencies

  • physical competencies

  • sensory competencies

  • environment

  • opportunities and barriers for success

After the assessment, if the client is a candidate for augmentative communication, a trial with a system will be set up. More than one system may be trialed. These trials involve training of the client and those who will be supporting them with their system.

In addition to the initial purchase and set-up of the system, ongoing maintenance and updating of vocabulary/messages is necessary. It is recommended that a specific person be identified who will take on this responsibility.

Augmentative communication can have an incredibly positive impact in a person's life. To be successful, however, it is essential to have:

  • client motivation to communicate

  • a system that meets the person's specific participation needs

  • buy-in from communication partners

  • vocabulary that is relevant for the person's needs

  • a thorough assessment and trial process

  • a plan for initial and on-going training

  • accountability and responsibility for system support 

  • a system that is age-appropriate

  • features that reduce the effort required to use the system

Apps for Communication


Text-to-speech applications allow a person to type or select a pre-programmed message to then be spoken by the device. They can be accessed directly (e.g., finger tapping) or indirectly (e.g., with an external switch). Text-to-speech is also a feature that may be included in pictoral augmentative systems.

bottom of page