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Back to School – AAC Assessment Tools to Know About!

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

School is back in session which means SLPs are busy! New referrals, evaluations, re-evaluations. This week's blog post focuses on tools that can be utilized in the AAC evaluation and re-evaluation process. These tools were created to assist speech-language pathologists in the clinical decision-making process during an AAC evaluation as well as aiding clinicians in monitoring progress and setting goals.

And the best part of these tools? They are all FREE for you to use in your clinical practice! Regardless of the AAC system - high-tech or low-tech, direct access or indirect access, symbol-based or text-based - these tools can support clinicians assessing AAC users of all ages and abilities.

Assessment of Learning Process (ALP) for AAC (Nilsson & Durkin, 2014; Nilsson et al., 2011)

  • This is a great tool for assessing alternate access methods for AAC users! For individuals with complex access needs, possibly due to fine motor, gross motor, or visual motor impairments, this tool can guide clinicians when assessing alternate access methods.

  • The authors of this resource provides a framework that highlights the progression in learning an alternate access method. It has eight phases that is grouped into three stages of learning.

  • In the first stage, the focus of this tool is on the user's body and access method, then in stage two communication is added in. Finally, into stage three the focus is on the user's body, access method, and communication, plus environment and ADLs are added in.

  • Access it here: ALP for AAC

Tool for Analysis of Language and Communication (TALC; Senner & Baud, 2013)

  • This is a language sampling tool that is intended to be used with multimodal communicators. This tool provides many different ways to code the modes of communication an individual might use depending on the setting they are in, the communication partners in the exchange, and the activity they are participating in.

  • A great component of this tool is that it provides summary information related to the modes of communication an individual uses, the level of prompting used, and the user's average utterance length.

  • Access it here: TALC

  • Learn more about the program here: TALC AAC

Family Impact of Assistive Technology Scale for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (FIATS-AAC; Delarosa et al., 2012)

  • Developed by Steve Ryan and Anne Marie Renzoni at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, this is a parent-report questionnaire designed to identify functional change associated w/ AAC intervention.

  • This tool has 13 dimensions that aims to measure an AAC user's overall functioning and domain-specific functioning related to their AAC system use. Domains include factors related to the child (e.g., behavior, education, communication) and factors related to the family (e.g., family roles).

  • Access it here: FIATS-AAC

Communication Matrix (Rowland, 2011)

  • This is a free web-based assessment tool that is used to document an AAC user's communication skills over time.

  • The Communication Matrix is an evidence-based expressive communication assessment tool for individuals with complex communication needs.

  • This tool addresses multimodal communication including symbol-based communication such as picture symbols or tangible object symbols as well as pre-symbolic communication such as gestures or facial expressions.

  • Access it here: Communication Matrix

The Communication Supports Inventory-Children and Youth (CSI-CY; Rowland et al., 2009)

  • This tool was created to assist clinicians in goal writing for children who use AAC. It is not an assessment tool, but it aims to help clinicians prepare goals for an IEP related to communication.

  • The focus of this tool is to observe where an AAC user's participation is restricted due to communication impairment. It addresses many areas including school-based activities, receptive and expressive language, and social interactions.

  • Access it here: Communication Supports Inventory-Children and Youth (CSI-CY)

From all of us at Forbes AAC, we wish you a happy start to the school year!


  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Practice Portal).

  • Beukelman, D. R., & Light, J. C. (2020). Augmentative & alternative communication: Supporting children and adults with complex communication needs (5th ed.). Brookes.

  • Delarosa, L., Horner, S., Eisenberg, C., Ball, L., Renzoni, A., & Ryan, S.E. (2012). Family impact of Assistive Technology Scale: Development of a measurement scale for parents of children with complex communication needs. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 28, 171–180.

  • Nilsson, L., Eklund, M., Nyberg, P., & Thulesius, H. (2011). Driving to learn in a powered wheelchair: The process of learning joystick use in people with profound cognitive disabilities. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(6), 652-660.

  • Nilsson, L., & Durkin, J. (2014). Assessment of learning powered mobility use-applying grounded theory to occupational performance. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 51(6), 963–974.

  • Senner & Baud (2013). Tool for Analysis of Language and Communication (TALC).

  • Rowland, C., Fried-Oken, M., & Steiner, M. (2009). Communication Supports Inventory-Children and Youth (CSI-CY) for children who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Oregon Health & Science University.

  • Rowland, C. (2011). Using the Communication Matrix to assess expressive skills in early communicators. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 32(3), 190–201.

Katie Threlkeld, M.S., CCC-SLP is a licensed, ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist and the Educational Program Developer at Forbes AAC. She has over eight years of experience in AT and AAC assessment and treatment with both the pediatric and adult populations. Katie has presented at the state and national level on AAC topics and she has University teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level.

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