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What is AAC?

AAC means all of the ways that someone communicates besides talking.

People of all ages can use AAC if they have trouble with speech or language skills. Augmentative means to add to someone’s speech. Alternative means to be used instead of speech. Some people use AAC throughout their life. Others may use AAC only for a short time, like when they have surgery and can’t talk.

(American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)

Why does communication matter?

Enabling good lives is the future of disability support services in Aotearoa NZ. In the future, disabled children and adults and their families will have greater choice and control over their supports and lives, and make more use of natural and universally available supports.

Being able to effectively communicate is fundamental to having greater choice and control over ones own life. 

Human Rights

Communication is part of our human rights, and is an essential part of life. The right to effective communication is acknowledged internationally, and in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Communication is intergrated throughout the United Nations Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities. Article 20 of the UNCRPD specifies people have the right to access assistive technology and devices. 

The New Zealand Health and Disability Commission also have communication specifically mentioned in their code of rights. Specificially, Right 5: the right to effective communication. 

Communication Bill of Rights

All people with a disability of any extent or severity have a basic right to affect, through communication, the conditions of their existence. Beyond this general right, a number of specific communication rights should be ensured in all daily interactions and interventions involving persons who have severe disabilities. To participate fully in communication interactions, each person has these fundamental communication rights: 

  • 1. The right to interact socially, maintain social closeness, and build relationships

  • 2. The right to request desired objects, actions, events, and people

  • 3. The right to refuse or reject undesired objects, actions, events, or choices

  • 4. The right to express personal preferences and feelings

  • 5. The right to make choices from meaningful alternatives

  • 6. The right to make comments and share opinions

  • 7. The right to ask for and give information, including information about changes in routine and environment

  • 8. The right to be informed about people and events in one’s life

  • 9. The right to access interventions and supports that improve communication

  • 10. The right to have communication acts acknowledged and responded to even when the desired outcome cannot be realized

  • 11. The right to have access to functioning AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) and other AT (assistive technology) services and devices at all times

  • 12. The right to access environmental contexts, interactions, and opportunities that promote participation as full communication partners with other people, including peers

  • 13. The right to be treated with dignity and addressed with respect and courtesy

  • 14. The right to be addressed directly and not be spoken for or talked about in the third person while present

  • 15. The right to have clear, meaningful, and culturally and linguistically appropriate communications

For more information, go to the NJC website at:  11220 Brady, N. C., Bruce, S., Goldman, A., Erickson, K., Mineo, B., Ogletree, B. T., Paul, D., Romski, M., Sevcik, R., Siegel, E., Schoonover, J., Snell, M., Sylvester, L., & Wilkinson, K. (2016). Communication services and supports for individuals with severe disabilities: Guidance for assessment and intervention. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 121(2), 121-138.