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Low Tech


Low-Tech AAC Devices  

Low-tech voice-output communication devices use digital technology to record speech, are easy to program, and require a power source.

Who Can Benefit from Using Low-Tech AAC Devices

  • Low-tech devices can introduce a young child or early communicator to the world of augmentative communication. This is sometimes called “exposure.”
  • Use of low-tech AAC devices can provide non-speaking students and unintelligible speakers with opportunities to participate in daily routines and share experiences with peers.
  • Low-tech AAC devices can be used to target specific language development.
  • Intervention using low-tech AAC devices can be an effective strategy for students with challenging behaviors.
  • Some students may use low-tech devices in place of their high-tech systems in select situations/environments.
  • High-tech device users may use a low-tech device when their primary device is out for repair.

Student/User Considerations for Low-Tech AAC Devices

  • Who can benefit from low-tech devices?
  • How will the device be used to improve communication or participation?
  • How will use of the device be tied to the student’s IEP and/or daily activities?
  • What can be done to keep the student interested and motivated?
  • When and where will the device be used?
  • What family/school/other supports are available? ◦Is the device age-appropriate?
  • Have the student’s preferences been considered?

Keys to Successful Device Selection

  • Match the needs/abilities of the student and the characteristics of the environment to the 
    features of the device.
  • Use a team approach in decision-making.
  • Provide trials with equipment whenever possible before purchase.

 Low-Tech Communication Device Features


- Single level/multiple levels
- Number of messages
-Time per message/total time
- Target size/cell size
- Type of symbols (3-d possible)
- Symbol /overlay storage
- Sequencer (single/multiple levels)
- Randomizer
- Feedback (none, visual, tactile)
- Key guards 
- Access method
- Reliability
- Pressure required to activate
- Alternate access possibilities
- Volume, clarity
- Overall device size
- Shape, design of the device Weight
- Portability/mounting
- Designed for tabletop use
- Ease of programming, updating
- Power system
- Cost - Tech support


Activities for getting Switch Users involved in the
classroom using a Randomizer:Randomizing Throughout the Day.pdf



Low-Tech AAC Device Manufacturers/Distributors

As of May, 2011, able, an online database of assistive technology products, lists 600 different speech communication devices available on today’s market. Most of these are low-tech AAC devices. Below are some of the major manufacturers/distributors.

  • Ablenet
  • Adaptivation
  • AMDi
  • Attainment
  • Enabling Devices
  • Mayer-Johnson
  • Replay for Kids 

Switch Adapted Toys

118 Ideas for Using a Single Message Voice Output 
CTG Low Tech AAC      
Low-tech handout           


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Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities
1275 Lakeside Avenue East
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1129
PHONE: (216)241-8230 - FAX: (216)861-0253