Researchers at the Wake Forest computer science department are developing an application for the iPhone and iPad that allows people with speech disabilities to communicate by clicking on photos. Professor Paul Pauca tests the app, called Verbal Victor, with his son, Victor, at The Children's Center in Winston-Salem, NC, on Wednesday, June 30, 2010.

What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)?

From the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website:

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write.

People with severe speech or language problems rely on AAC to supplement existing speech or replace speech that is not functional. Special augmentative aids, such as picture and symbol communication boards and electronic devices, are available to help people express themselves. This may increase social interaction, school performance, and feelings of self-worth. AAC users should not stop using speech if they are able to do so. The AAC aids and devices are used to enhance their communication.

What are the types of AAC systems?

Unaided communication systems – rely on the user’s body to convey messages. Examples include gestures, body language, and/or sign language.

Aided communication systems – require the use of tools or equipment in addition to the user’s body. Aided communication methods can range from paper and pencil to communication books or boards to devices that produce voice output (speech generating devices or SGD’s)and/or written output. Electronic communication aids allow the user to use picture symbols, letters, and/or words and phrases to create messages. Some devices can be programmed to produce different spoken languages.

The iPad and iPad mini are some of the most common electronic Aided Communication Devices used by children with Pitt Hopkins syndrome.

Popular Communication Apps used by our Pitt Hopkins families:


Proloquo2Go, 45 Core Vocabulary

Leaders in AAC, Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite and Dr. Gretchen Hanser  presented our first Pitt Hopkins AAC Workshop in Washington DC, September 2015. Here are the slides from this incredible workshop: . They have an excellent website about AAC:  and blog: .

The Angelman Syndrome Foundation, in collaboration with communication expert Erin Sheldon, M. Ed., has created a FREE new communication resource. The ASF has allowed the Pitt Hopkins community to access this training series from their ASF website:

Literacy for All: In conversation with Dr. Caroline Musselwhite
These 11 video clips and related learning guides provide an opportunity to enhance and support teacher practice in the area of literacy for students with significant disabilities: