This course is a podcast episode.

You can listen to this course for free on most podcast players (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, etc.). Once you have listened to the episode / course you can access the post-test and earn your certificate / ASHA CEUs using the links above.

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    Handout: AAC Basics Part 1: Terminology, Roles, & Responsibilities

    An outline several pages long that includes main episode points, a reference list, and online resources. Included in annual subscription.
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Course Description and Learning Outcomes

You just found out you have an augmentative alternative communication (AAC) user on your caseload - congratulations, get ready to have some fun!  If it has been a while since you’ve worked with somebody with complex communication needs (CCN), if you’ve never worked with somebody with CCN, or if you just want a review of the basics - this episode is for you! In this episode we will provide a quick overview of some key terminology and intervention strategies - as well as load you up with resources where you can learn more.  This episode won’t cover the AAC assessment process, but will give you information about what questions you might want to ask yourself when designing and providing ongoing treatment for somebody who uses AAC. Communication partners are a big piece of the puzzle when developing a plan for optimal communication for the AAC users in your life.  We’ll also point you in the direction of some great partner training  literature, as well as give you tips for where you might want to start right now with your service delivery. 

As is the way sometimes, we have a lot to say about this topic, so we couldn’t fit it all into one episode.  Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will identify barriers for successful implementation and strategies for success across different environments.  We will also put all this new knowledge into practice and discuss several clinical cases as examples.

Come join us, be our nerdy friend, listen, learn, and earn ASHA Professional Development (other providers check with your credentialing organization to find out if our quiz and certificate of participation counts toward the professional development requirements for your license, email us with any questions!). 

  1. Identify and define at least 2 key terms used in AAC 
  2. Identify at least 2 personnel roles and responsibilities involved with AAC assessment and intervention

Course Presenters

SLP/BCBA; SLP Kate Grandbois (she/her) & Amy Wonkka (she/her

Kate and Amy are co-founders of SLP Nerdcast. Kate is a dually certified SLP / BCBA who works primarily as an "AAC Specialist." She owns a private practice with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, augmentative alternative communication intervention and assessment, and consultation. Amy is an SLP who also works as an "AAC Specialist" in a public school setting. Amy's primary interests are AAC, typical language development, motor speech, phonology, data collection, collaboration, coaching, and communication partner training and support.

Speaker Disclosures

Kate Grandbois financial disclosures: Kate is the owner / founder of Grandbois Therapy + Consulting, LLC and co-founder of SLP Nerdcast. Kate Grandbois non-financial disclosures: Kate is a member of ASHA, SIG 12, and serves on the AAC Advisory Group for Massachusetts Advocates for Children. She is also a member of the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT), MassABA, the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and the corresponding Speech Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis SIG. 

Amy Wonkka financial disclosures: Kate is an employee of a public school system and co-founder of SLP Nerdcast.  Amy Wonkka non-financial disclosures: Amy is a member of ASHA, SIG 12, and serves on the AAC Advisory Group for Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

Time Ordered Agenda

10 minutes: Introduction, Disclaimers and Disclosures

20 minutes:  Descriptions of key terms used in AAC

15 minutes:  Descriptions of the personnel roles within AAC assessment and intervention

10 minutes:  Descriptions of the personnel responsibilities within AAC assessment and intervention

5 minutes: Summary and Closing

References and Resources

Ratcliff A, Koul R, Lloyd LL. Preparation in augmentative and alternative communication: an update for speech-language pathology training. Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2008;17(1):48‐59. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/005)

Cathy Binger, Laura Ball, Aimee Dietz, Jennifer Kent-Walsh, Joanne Lasker, Shelley Lund, Miechelle  McKelvey & Wendy Quach (2012) Personnel Roles in the AAC Assessment Process, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 28:4, 278-288, DOI: 10.3109/07434618.2012.716079

Augmentative and Alternative Communication:

 Augmentative and Alternative Communication:  A Glossary:

 Information for AAC Users:

 ISAAC:  What is AAC?

 Iconicity - Libby Rush’s ASHA presentation 2007:

Communication Matrix Handbook: file:///home/chronos/u-7131d381df49d87e032b826afd4ed96b8fc99eef/MyFiles/Downloads/handbook.pdf

Communication Matrix 7-Levels of Communication Handout:

Core Vocabulary:  Making Sense of Symbols:

AAC Communication Decisions:

Communication Community Blog:


The contents of this episode are not meant to replace clinical advice.  SLP Nerdcast, its hosts and guests do not represent or endorse specific products or procedures mentioned during our episodes unless otherwise stated.  We are NOT PhDs, but we do research our material.  We do our best to provide a thorough review and fair representation of each topic that we tackle.  That being said, it is always likely that there is an article we’ve missed, or another perspective that isn’t shared.  If you have something to add to the conversation, please email us! We'd love to hear from you!


5 star rating

Excellent foundational knowledge

Brittany Crume

I have participated in many AAC foundations type of courses. Much of this was review of things I already knew, but it was presented in such a fun and easy to...

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I have participated in many AAC foundations type of courses. Much of this was review of things I already knew, but it was presented in such a fun and easy to digest manner. I would highly recommend this course to anyone just embarking on their AAC journey.

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