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Assistive Technology & Assistive Communication devices (AAC)

See our Progressive Neurological Disease Home Page for a full list of information about progressive and degenerative neurological disease, and links to information and strategies relating to communication and cognitive functioning.

Assistive Technology & Assistive Communication devices (AAC)

Assistive technology is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices with a focus on facilitating communication. Modern electronic machines (hi-tech) have become the new way for many individuals to communicate. However, assistive devices do not have to be expensive or electronic, they can be lo-tech, picture cards for instance, and often the simpler lo-tech option is the better, more functional option depending on the client and their disability. Whatever assistive device is used, the end goal is to improve communication and independence. See our section on Assistive Communication for more information.

Many individuals with neurological difficulties or disease can benefit from assistive communication devices:

  • Lo-tech options can include things like visual communication books, pencil and paper, alphabet charts or E-Tran frames. Although these options are less technical than the electronic communication devices they are sometimes easier and quicker to use to communicate.
  • Hi-tech options can include electronic communication devices and software that have speech output. Some newer machines also contain environmental controls which allow you to turn off the lights, change the channel on the TV etc.


Accessing Communication Devices
Accessing communication devices can sometimes be an issue when an individual with a progressive neurological disease starts to have physical difficulties. However, through the use of scanning, switches, head control and eye-gaze, devices can be accessed quickly and effectively.

See our section on Hi-tech Assistive Technology and communication – this section of the site focuses on a growing area, where the use of technology is helping many adults with acquired difficulties to communicate more effectively.

For more information about communication difficulties, and ideas and strategies to help communication, see our Resources, or for specific fact-sheets about progressive and degenerative neurological diseases and information and strategies for improving communication and cognitive functioning go to the Downloads Section.


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