Toy Tuesday: Guess Who + AAC
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Guess Who - graphic

Toy Tuesday: Guess Who + AAC

In this month’s Toy Tuesday, Helen shows us how to use Guess Who to model core language in low-tech, symbol based paper AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication).

Communication Matters defines Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) as the term that describes various methods of communication that can ‘add-on’ to speech and are used to get around problems with ordinary speech. AAC includes simple systems such as pictures, gestures and pointing, as well as more complex techniques involving powerful computer technology. Some kinds of AAC are actually part of everyone’s communication, for example: waving goodbye, giving a ‘thumbs up’, pointing to a picture or gesturing. However, some people have to rely on AAC most of the time.

Using paper-based, low-tech AAC enables communication for those who find speech difficult, which in-turn enables participation, opening up the world and its possibilities. By using paper based AAC with core vocabulary a child will have the best opportunity to communicate across as many contexts as possible.

How vocabulary is organised:

  • 75-85% of a person’s vocabulary will consist of 200-300 “core” words.
  • The 50 most frequently occurring words account for 40-50% of that total, while 100 = 60%.
  • These include words common across contexts, people, places and activities.
  • Core vocabularies, even for toddlers, contain predominantly function words (pronouns, articles, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs):

Vocab organisation


A great example of core vocabulary use alongside some paper based AAC can be seen here in a game of Pop Up Molly Mouse (a bit like Pop Up pirate!)


Some more examples are pictured below, and a lovely example on YouTube of how to read a book with a core language symbol board:



A key strategy for using AAC is modelling. Modelling means people in the environment point to the words on the AAC system while talking to the AAC user, as you saw in the Pop-Up Molly Mouse clip. When the AAC user sees people in their environment using the AAC system to communicate, they will learn how they can also use their AAC to communicate. This modelling is more likely to happen when AAC is available and easy to access, and is extremely important for children who find speech difficult.

Teaching and modelling core language can be really fun – here’s how the language in the game Guess Who could lend itself to a symbol based paper AAC board really nicely!

Guess Who vocab

And finally, some food for thought about AAC use!