Developing Accessible, Autonomous Communication for AAC-Using Children: Long-Term Outcomes and Evidence-Informed Practices

Quick Overview

This talk discusses the importance of developing accessible and autonomous communication for children who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The speaker emphasizes the need for long-term outcomes and evidence-informed practices in AAC interventions. They discuss concepts such as communication autonomy, accessibility, requirements, competence, and habits for communication at any time. The speaker also highlights the importance of considering the individual’s personality and style in AAC interventions. They stress the need for communication access and the involvement of partners in supporting AAC users. The talk concludes by emphasizing the importance of evidence-based practice and the difference between output and outcome in AAC interventions.


Welcome to the fourth annual educational summit for Angelman Syndrome. Today, we have four experienced speakers who will be discussing the development of accessible and autonomous communication for children using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). In this talk, we will explore the long-term outcomes and evidence-informed practices in this field.

The Journey of AAC Communication

When a parent first learns that their child needs to communicate using AAC, it can feel like learning a foreign language. The different modalities, hardware options, software, and language organization can be overwhelming. However, it is important to understand the different concepts and make informed decisions about the best approach for your child.

Communication Autonomy and Accessibility

Communication autonomy is the ability to say what you want to say, to whoever you want to say it, whenever and wherever you want to say it. It is about being able to express yourself and understand others. Communication accessibility refers to the support and understanding provided by the social environment to enable individuals to communicate autonomously. It is important to develop communication systems and interventions that promote both autonomy and accessibility.

Communication Requirements and Competence

Communication requirements are the needs of an individual to communicate effectively in their world. This includes being understood, being specific, being efficient, being independent, and communicating in a socially valued manner. Communication competence involves having sufficient knowledge, judgment, and skills in language, operational competence, social competence, and strategic competence.

Habits for Communication at Any Time

Developing habits for communication at any time is crucial for individuals using AAC. This involves making sure the AAC system is readily available, providing enough time for the individual to communicate their own message, and ensuring that the AAC system is seen as the individual’s voice. It is important to create an environment where AAC is valued and used consistently.

Evidence-Informed Practices

When it comes to evidence-informed practices, it is important to consider the available research evidence, clinical expertise, and client perspectives. While there is research on specific skills and interventions, it is crucial to focus on meaningful outcomes and genuine participation in the world. It is also important to differentiate between output and outcome, as output is what the individual does in a controlled environment, while outcome is the impact on their real life.


Developing accessible and autonomous communication for children using AAC is a complex journey. It requires understanding the concepts of communication autonomy, accessibility, requirements, competence, and habits for communication at any time. By considering the available evidence and focusing on meaningful outcomes, we can ensure that children using AAC have the opportunity to communicate effectively and participate fully in their world.

Talk details

  • Title: Developing accessible, autonomous communication for AAC-using children: long-term outcomes and evidence-informed practices
  • Author(s): Gayle Porter
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: None
  • Publication date: 2015-12-05
  • Collection: 2015 FAST Science Summit