Cherry Garden School41 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 5BB

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Communication Systems

What is AAC?

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the term used to describe various methods of communication that can ‘add-on’ to speech and are used to get around problems with ordinary speech. 
AAC includes simple systems such as pictures, gestures and pointing, as well as more complex techniques involving powerful computer technology.

Some kinds of AAC are actually part of everyone's communication, for example: waving goodbye; giving a 'thumbs up' instead of speaking; pointing to a picture or gesturing in a foreign country. However, some people have to rely on AAC most of the time.

Different types of AAC

  • No-tech communication does not involve any additional equipment - hence it is  sometimes referred to as 'unaided communication'. Examples are: body language, gestures, pointing, eye pointing, facial expressions, vocalisations, signing.
    For more details see: Getting started: communication without technology.
  • Low-tech communication systems do not need a battery to function and include: pen and paper to write messages or draw; alphabet and word boards; communication charts or books with pictures, photos and symbols; particular objects used to stand for what the person needs to understand or say. This is sometimes referred to as 'aided communication' because additional equipment is required.  Have a look at our children using their communication books.  Another low-tech communication system we use at school is PECS.  Click here for more information and videos.
  • High-tech communication systems need power from a battery or mains. Most of them speak and/or produce text. They range from simple buttons or pages that speak when touched, to very sophisticated systems. Some high-tech communication systems are based on familiar equipment such as mobile devices, tablets and laptops, others use equipment specially designed to support communication. This is sometimes referred to as 'aided communication' because additional equipment is required.  

At Cherry Garden School, we use Makaton to help the children with their communication.

Here are some of their signs of the week:

Visit our Makaton Songs page where you can sing along to some favourites from Singing Hands!

Here are some useful Makaton signs for school.

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