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Modeling Communication with an AAC User

AAC systems can be intimidating at first, but it's important to stick with it. Modeling on the system is the best way to learn! If you are not familiar with your AAC user’s device, stumbling around on it is a fantastic way to show you and the AAC user how to find vocabulary words and navigate topics on the AAC device. Modeling using AAC means that you use the communication system while you talk to show how it can be used. For example, if you said, “Let’s go to the park”, you could model “go” or “go park” on the AAC system. You can also model what you think the AAC user is thinking.

Modeling using ACC is important because learning a new language involves a significant amount of input (listening, seeing) before you get output (speaking, using the system). Modeling helps both you and the AAC user learn the system. It helps increase motivation and it shows that the AAC system is a way of communicating.

3 Tips for modeling:

  1. Start Small – Pick a couple of words or phrases to model and build gradually over time

  2. Stick to Keywords or Core Words– You don’t need to model every word you say. For example, if you verbally say “It’s time to go to school,” you might model the words “time + go + school” while you speak.

  3. Make it FUN! – Engaging in motivating topics makes using the AAC system rewarding for the user.

Resources for Parents:


Biggs, E. E., Carter, E. W., & Gilson, C. B. (2019). A Scoping Review of the Involvement of Children’s Communication Partners in Aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication Modeling Interventions. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 28(2), 743–758.


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