Who Does What?

Two people - one with a triangle hat and one with a trapezoid hat

Who is part of the AAC decision-making team?

  • Person needing AAC. They should have as much input as possible in decision making by indicating their needs, goals, and interests.
  • Family & Friends. They are the long term support and advocacy for the person needing AAC. They often have deep insights into historical communication needs and attempts.
  • Caregivers & Support Personnel. They are the current support system for the person needing AAC. They often assist with communication when there is a misinterpretation. They may also have insights into the vocabulary needs and interests of the person.
  • Speech/Language Pathologists (SLPs) & Communication Specialists. These are professionals that specialize in the evaluation and treatment of communication disorders.
  • AC Specialists. These are SLPs with additional expertise and training in AAC. They can assist the team in selecting and maintaining appropriate AAC systems
  • Occupational & Physical Therapists and Assistive Technology Specialists. These professionals can help determine how a person with physical difficulties can access an AAC system. They identify the barriers, and maximize opportunities for successful AAC use
  • Others. Any others that have knowledge of the person may be included to provide insights:
    • ASL Interpreters
    • Social Workers
    • Teachers
    • Job Coaches

 Who typically leads the AAC decision-making team?

  • SLPs and AAC Specialists. They gather information from the AAC decision-making team (see above) for the AAC assessment, make AAC recommendations, and provide treatment.
  • Part of their responsibility may be to identify funding sources for AAC

How can decision-making about AAC have the full involvement of team members?

  • Sharing a process for making AAC decisions rather than attempting to take the decision out of their hands. For example, you may want to encourage them to start by identifying what they want the AAC tool to do. Help them clarify what they want, with your guidance, and then encourage them to evaluate each option against their goals.
  • Gathering and sharing information from all members of the team
  • Combining knowledge and expertise through the process of planning
  • Carefully made decisions will go a long way toward making implementation of any AAC system successful. (Communication Assistance for Young Adults www.cayabc.org)


Print Materials

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Related Videos

This video features 2 people who use AAC. Each had very different experiences going through school; however, they have similar words of advice for people, especially general education teachers, about supporting students who use AAC in general education classrooms

Deepen Your Understanding

Roles and Responsibilities

SLPs play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of persons requiring AAC intervention. The professional roles and activities in speech-language pathology include clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment), advocacy, education, administration, and research.

Appropriate roles for SLPs include the following:

  • Provide training for medical and allied health professionals, educators, and family members about AAC use and the impact of AAC on quality of life
  • Educate other professionals and caregivers on the needs of persons using AAC and the role of SLPs in meeting the needs of individuals who use AAC
  • Serve as a liaison between the family and the SGD provider
  • Screen individuals who may benefit from AAC intervention
  • Determine the need for further assessment and/or referral for other services
  • Conduct a comprehensive, transdisciplinary, culturally and linguistically appropriate assessment related to provision of AAC services
  • Refer to other professionals (rehabilitation engineer, assistive technology professional, occupational therapist, physical therapist, music therapist, vision specialist) to facilitate access to comprehensive services, reduce barriers, and maximize opportunities for successful AAC use
  • Involve individuals and family members in decision making to the greatest extent possible throughout the assessment and intervention process
  • Develop and implement intervention plans that are culturally and linguistically appropriate to maximize effective communication between individuals who use AAC and their communication partners across the lifespan
  • Document progress, determine appropriate AAC modifications, and determine dismissal and follow-up criteria, if indicated
  • Generate reports to help with funding and collaborate with funding agencies
  • Counsel persons who use AAC and their families/caregivers regarding communication-related issues and provide education aimed at preventing abandonment and other complications relating to AAC use
  • Serve as an integral member of an interdisciplinary team working with individuals who use AAC and their families/caregivers
  • Participate in individualized education program (IEP) meetings
  • Ensure that AAC goals and AAC use are included in a student’s IEP
  • Remain informed of research in the area of AAC, and help advance the knowledge base related to the nature of AAC assessment and intervention
  • Use evidence-based practice to evaluate functional outcomes of AAC intervention
  • Know about funding sources and the requirements for applying for funding from each source
  • Advocate for individuals and their families/caregivers at the local, state, and national levels, particularly with regard to funding, education, and acceptance of AAC use.