Assessing Communication (AAC Evaluations)

Assessing Communication (AAC Evaluations)

What is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Evaluation?

An evaluation means reviewing all the ways a person currently communicates, and providing ideas for enhancing communication. AAC evaluations must be done by a licensed, certified speech-language pathologist (See Providers page for more information). Depending on the consumer, a lot of the information may come from friends, family members, or staff. Other times, the evaluator may use activities or formal tests to learn about the person's communication strengths and challenges. Some free, customizeable forms and templates are available at:

Services may involve:
  • Assessments (evaluation of needs, feature matching and possibly arranging for and implementing device trials)
  • Arrange for acquisition/purchase of AAC device
  • Training “end-user”
  • Training communication partners
  • Coordinating use of devices with other services/therapies
  • Assuring maintenance of device
  • Arranging for repair/replacement (have a plan! Put it in the ISP!)
  • Evaluating effectiveness of implementation


The evaluation should include ideas for how to help the consumer improve her communication. Since communication takes two, there may also be several recommendations for the people who talk to and with the consumer (a.k.a., "communication partners"). For suggestions that may be appropriate for many consumers who have difficulty communicating, see the How I Can Help page.

Trying AAC Devices

In order to ensure that the device being recommended will be a good fit, there should be a trial period. If you are considering having the communication device paid through insurance, you will need to have a trial period that includes data and anecdotes from family, teachers, therapists, etc. that show how successful the trial period was. There are many ways to do this, including:
  • PIAT Lending Library (
  • PaTTAN (for school-based personnel)
  • Device Manufacturers (some already have well-established borrowing programs)
  • Lite or 30-day trials of apps on mobile devices

Funding Sources for AAC Devices

The speech-language pathologist performing the evaluation should be able to help you consider ways to pay for a communication device, and it will vary by individual. The format and style of the evaluative report may vary depending on the requirements of funding source (i.e., school-based reports will look different than medical-based reports). Also, on our Funding for consumers page (Speech-Language Pathologists have a separate funding page).
Examples of funding sources include:
  • Local Education Agencies (LEA), School District or Intermediate Units (also, as about school-based Medical Assistance)
  • Medical-based insurance: private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid/Medical Assistance (review the policy coverage for "Durable Medical Equipment)
  • Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (for individuals who need a way to communicate at work)
  • Community Organizations and Churches

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