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Augmentative & Alternative Communication Profile A Continuum of Learning
Ages: 2-21   Grades: Toddler-Adult

This profile includes everything you need to assess communicative competence and design intervention for the ever-changing needs of people who use AAC systems.

Test Set
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Augmentative & Alternative Comm Profile Forms (15)
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Profile Purpose
The Profile has two functions:

  1. An assessment tool that measures subjective, functional skills for developing communicative competence using AAC systems; re-evaluates skill level; and monitors progress.
  2. A guide to help manage clients who use any type of speech-generating AAC system.  The profile grew out of the literature related to critical pathways and continuums of care implemented to increase quality of care and efficiency and to reduce costs.


Profile Description
The AAC Profile allows you to:

  • identify areas of strength and those that need intervention and instruction
  • determine functional, long-range outcomes and the steps toward achieving them
  • compare individual performance over time toward desired outcomes
  • identify ways that AAC support team members can define and coordinate their roles for intervention and instruction programs
  • identify and provide optimal learning environments

Originally developed for use with children who use speech-generating systems; the AAC Profile is appropriate for use with adults who do not have acquired communication disorders and who use AAC systems.  The profile is not specific to a disorder, severity, or setting.


Assessment items are divided hierarchically into ability-based levels called Skill Set Levels in four Areas of Learning.  Skill Set Levels range from simple and early functioning to independent use and AAC system mastery.  These areas are adapted from the work and publication of Janice Light, 1989.

  • Operational Area of Learning
    Assess the development of the technical skills used to operate the AAC system, including the ability to access the system to transmit information.  Skill Set Levels include Orientation and Awareness, Manipulation, Focused Use, AAC System Navigation, and AAC System Programming and Use.
  • Linguistic Area of Learning
    Assess the development of receptive and expressive language skills used in the home and community, the knowledge and use of the language "code" of the AAC system, and the ability to attend to both during a communicative interaction.  Skill Set Levels include Communication Awareness, Communication with Specific Meaning, Communication by Combining Words, Communication Using Syntax and Morphology, and Communication Using Refined Language.
  • Social Area of Learning
    Assess the development of skills needed for social communication including the individual's self-image as a communicator and the desire to communicate reciprocally with others.  Skill Set Levels include Natural Behaviors, Effective Regulatory Behaviors, Practiced Interaction, Social Awareness and Competence, and Social Mastery.
  • Strategic Area of Learning
    Assess the knowledge of what can be communicated and how best to communicate it as well as developing compensatory strategies for effective communication.  Skill Set Levels include Pre-Intentional/Reflexive, Intentional, Programmed Message Use, Appropriate Message Selection and Use, and Strategic Mastery.

Examiner Qualifications
Although the Augmentative & Alternative Communication Profile is best used under the guidance of a speech-language pathologist, it is intended for use by a multidisciplinary team of individuals who have knowledge about the person's physical, cognitive, and social skills as they relate to AAC.


General Procedures

  • No special materials are needed to administer the profile.  Assess an individual's skills in an environment in which the individual uses an AAC system to communicate.  A communication partner is necessary for each Skill Set Level and in all but the Linguistic Area of Learning.
  • Establish a starting Skill Set Level in an Area of Learning and administer all the items within that Skill Set Level.
  • Continue through each subsequent Skill Set Level until the majority of items are rated Sometimes or Seldom.
  • Each Area of Learning is assessed individually and an entire Area of Learning should be assessed within the same session.

Testing Time

  • 60-90 minutes

Rather than scores, the frequency an individual demonstrates the skills/behaviors are rated on a 3, 2, 1 scale:

  • 3 = Frequently
  • 2 = Sometimes
  • 1 = Seldom

Based on how frequently skills are used, the support team determines a Communicative Competence Level.  The level can be:

  • where the individual currently demonstrates a majority of the assessment skills
  • set higher if the team determines it's a realistic goal for the individual
  • where intervention is targeted
  • different for each Area of Learning

Use the results to determine which skills the individual needs to develop or increase competency with his AAC device.  Profile results guide intervention and instruction by providing a systematic way to measure and document progress.


Copyright © 2009

Test Set includes: examiner's manual, 15 profile forms

ASHA Position Statement (2005) directs all SLPs to use evidence-based practice to guide their services.  The Augmentative & Alternative Communication Profile A Continuum of Learning addresses this practice in the area of AAC by:

  • Using Light's (1989) definition of communicative competence to determine the skills needed to achieve clinical outcomes in areas that support development of communicative competence using AAC
  • Identifying skill performance based on patient-oriented evidence that matters (POEMs) (Hill, 2002; 2004) to support development of functional communication in areas that contribute to and describe communicative competence development
  • Providing a systematic way to measure progress toward goal attainment that helps direct the course of efficient and effective intervention (ASHA, 2005)

The Augmentative & Alternative Communication Profile A Continuum of Learning incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2005). Evidence-based practice in communication disorders [Position Statement]. Available from

    Hill, K. (2002). The AAC institute: A resource for evidence-based clinical practice. Closing the Gap, 21(4), 1-15.

    Light, J. (1989). Toward a definition of communicative competence for individuals using augmentative and alternative communication systems. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 5, 137-144.


Tracy M. Kovach


Tracy M. Kovach, Ph.D., CCC-SLP has over 30 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist.  She has worked in public schools, clinic- and hospital-based programs, and in private practice.  Her primary focus has been in the area of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems and intervention strategies for children with complex communication needs and their families.

Tracy is an associate clinical professor in both the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado.  She has taught graduate courses in AAC at the University of Colorado-Boulder for several years.

Tracy has been involved in leadership throughout the United States and with the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the Colorado Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA), and the Foundation (CSHF).  She is an ASHA Fellow.

A Colorado native, Tracy enjoys skiing and golf.