Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Quick Overview

In this presentation, Kelly Fonner introduces the concept of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). She emphasizes the importance of communication and literacy for individuals with disabilities, and highlights the need for AAC tools and strategies to support their communication needs. Fonner discusses various AAC options, including unaided strategies (such as gestures and signs) and aided strategies (such as symbol boards and electronic devices). She also emphasizes the importance of modeling AAC use and incorporating it into everyday activities. Fonner concludes by discussing the impact of AAC on motivation and the role of the environment and people in supporting communication.


This talk provides an introduction to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), a revolutionary approach to literacy and communication for individuals with Angelman Syndrome. The author, Kelly Fonner, discusses the importance of AAC in empowering individuals with disabilities and highlights the various strategies and tools available for effective communication.

The Landscape of AAC

The author acknowledges the pioneers in the field of AAC who have changed expectations for children with disabilities. She emphasizes the importance of literacy and communication in empowering individuals and mentions the recorded presentations available on the FAST website for further learning.

Tools and Resources

The author announces some announcements and giveaways at the summit, including free bags and magazines from Fun & Function and a raffle for registration to AAC in the Desert, a valuable opportunity for individuals working with AAC for communication and literacy. She encourages attendees to participate in the raffle by providing their contact information.

Introduction to the First Speaker

The author introduces the first speaker, Kelly Fonner, who has extensive experience in special education and teaching AAC strategies. She highlights Kelly’s expertise in implementing AAC strategies and education technology and mentions her background in educational technology.

Importance of AAC

Kelly Fonner takes the stage and emphasizes the significance of AAC in communication. She shares personal stories and experiences to illustrate the importance of understanding the people who are communicating and the message they represent. She emphasizes the need for effective communication strategies and the power of AAC in enabling individuals to communicate.

Communication Methods

Kelly discusses the various ways individuals communicate, including body language, movement, sound, gestures, and more. She emphasizes the importance of understanding and associating intent with these communication methods to effectively communicate with individuals using AAC.

Strategies and Tools

Kelly introduces the concept of feature matching, where different AAC tools and strategies are matched to the individual’s needs and preferences. She discusses the importance of considering factors such as hardware, symbols, voice output, language representation, and organization when choosing AAC tools. She also mentions the importance of considering the individual’s cognitive and language processing abilities.

AAC Devices and Systems

Kelly provides an overview of different AAC devices and systems, including single message devices, multi-layered devices, and dedicated devices. She emphasizes the need for both unaided and aided strategies in AAC and highlights the importance of using symbols and modeling communication to encourage individuals to use AAC systems.

Implementation and Considerations

Kelly emphasizes the importance of implementing AAC strategies in everyday life and involving the entire family in using AAC systems. She encourages parents and caregivers to model AAC communication and create a communication-rich environment. She also mentions the SETT framework, which helps collect information about the student, environment, tasks, and tools to make informed decisions about AAC implementation.


Kelly concludes the AAC session by highlighting the importance of motivation and the environment in encouraging individuals to use AAC systems. She emphasizes the need to focus on activities and topics that interest the individual and create a supportive and communicative environment.

Talk details

  • Title: Introduction to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
  • Author(s): Kelly Fonner
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: None
  • Publication date: 2017-12-23
  • Collection: 2017 FAST Educational Summit