Many people have difficulty speaking or understanding what is being said, and this communication disability can be a huge barrier affecting every aspect of life.
2.2 million people are affected by communication problems include people with Aphasia, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Head Trauma, Learning Difficulties, Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s And Stroke.
A large variety of communication aids are available to help people communicate more effectively. Useful aids can include ‘no-tech’ (E-Tran frames) computer aided communication using different input methods and dedicated electronic AAC devices.
This factsheet outlines the main options when selecting an electronic aid to make communicating clearer and quicker. These ‘augmentative and alternative communication’ (AAC) aids can be a purpose-built device or a standard computer, tablet or smartphone running specialist software or apps. Many people combine such high-tech aids with other forms of non-verbal communication, including gestures, facial expression, pictures and signing.
Everyone’s communication support needs are different and selecting the right communication aids for an individual will depend on their particular needs, personal preferences and abilities. With so many aids to choose from, we emphasise the importance of seeking a comprehensive assessment by a speech and language therapist. This will ensure that all the important factors are considered – including the individual's motor, visual, cognitive, language and communication strengths and weaknesses. The therapist can also make a referral to a specialist communication aid centre if necessary.