Participation and AAC

Participation and AAC

Engaging with the world around.


We love seeing how Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) can lead to enhanced participation for our clients. Participation is varied and personal and means something different for every one of our clients. For some clients it might mean having the ability to provide an opinion or make a choice, for some it might mean participating in education and for some, it might mean running a business using assistive technology. We focus on helping our clients to achieve their participation goals across this spectrum.

Since 2001 with the inception of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), (World Health Organisation, 2001) we have seen an increased focus on participation in healthcare. This framework has opened up new ways of thinking in healthcare and enhanced opportunities for clients.

Taking this further and more specifically relating to AAC, the participation model (Beukelman & Mirenda, 2013) is a framework for best practice in AAC and describes a process of identifying opportunities and barriers to the use of AAC. We need to identify what factors are assisting our clients in using their AAC system and what factors are creating additional challenges.

Participation: the action of taking part in something.

Advancements in technology over the past decade have moved high tech AAC systems from speech generating devices alone to systems on which clients can:

  • Access social media including Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger
  • Send and receive emails
  • Access the internet
  • Stream content on YouTube
  • Control a television including free to air channels, Netflix, Stan, Disney Plus, and Binge
  • Play games
  • Access environmental controls including lights, fans, curtains, and doors

Some of the things we love about AAC are the amazing outcomes some of our clients have achieved in participating in life. Some of our favourite examples are:

  • A man with motor neurone disease who runs a business through the use of eye gaze access and computer control.
  • A woman who has begun writing a book following a stroke, using eye gaze access and computer control of Microsoft word.
  • A client with Down Syndrome who uses a low-tech communication system to engage with her support workers while bouncing on a trampoline or swinging on her swings.
  • A man with motor neurone disease who uses an iPad to communicate over the phone, allowing him to be better understood by others.
  • A man with an intellectual disability who shares with his speech pathologist where he’s been in the previous week.

Our client’s achievements make us proud, and we look forward to supporting them to achieve goals in the future.


Beukelman, D. R., & Mirenda, P. (2013). Augmentative and alternative communication: Supporting children and adults with complex communication needs. Baltimore, MD: Brookes

World Health Organization. (2001). International classification of functioning, disability and health: ICF. Geneva: World Health Organization.