AAC - Tier 1

AAC guide for systematic implementation of AAC for students with Complex Communication needs. 

Tier 1 targets building communication opportunities for all students using resources readily available in the classroom. SLPs and teachers gather basic student profile information about communication skills. They identify available access to communication supports and opportunities for communication within the school day. They also identify tasks where the students are unable to communicate and modify the environment based on these needs.  They identify and trial use of additional site resources.  Utilization of Tier 1 strategies and supports will meet the communication needs of a majority of students.


Tier 1 AAC

Roles and Responsibilites of Site Level IEP Team Members

Create a Communication-Rich Environments through use of strategies and supports

Gather basic student profile information about communication skills

Identify needs for further interventions

Access free and available district resources

Data collection (see Data Collection section below)


Roles and Responsibilities of AT

Provide general trainings about how to create communication-rich environments

Refer team to Web site with AAC resources

Suggest lists of basic AT for AAC


Data collection

Data is collected by the site-level IEP team to monitor progress on IEP goals and to describe present levels of functioning. Current technology supports and communications systems are monitored for effectiveness.

When additional supports are needed, begin to gather information from existing records on the following:
  • hearing/vision/sensori-perceptual skills 
  • cognitive skills (i.e., object permanence, means end, symbolic play)
  • physical access skills
  • current communication skills (receptive, expressive, pragmatic, and current method of communication)
  • what's been tried/what's successful  
  • level of attention to task and level of participation 
  • progress on goals 
  • behavior data collection
  • language skills in relation to academics



Training at Tier 1 focuses on creating communication-rich environments by providing communication systems and strategies that encourage higher-level language usage.  The training topics include:

    • Partner strategies
    • Scaffolding communication
    • Building expectations that students will communicate
    • How to create a communication board (Beyond I want).
    • Using social scripts
    • Simple VOCAs and their use


      B.    operational use of devices/systems/software (How to use Boardmaker)


      E.    general AT training (e.g., process/reasons for AT)


      F.    integration and implementation of technology into the classroom curriculum




      A.    classroom based communication device (e.g., 7 level communicator)


      B.    step by step


      C.    first letter cueing board


      D.    sequenced social scripts


      E.    schedules


      F.    software to create symbol supports (e.g., boardmaker)


      G.    repair strategies


      H.    simple choice devices (e.g., iTalk2)


      I.    classroom based vocabulary on communication boards (e.g., news 2 you boards)


      J.    access to visual supports (e.g., pictures, photos, objects) in the learning environments

      Teachers should expect all students to communicate

      Recognize and respond to the student’s individual communication initiations

      Arrange the environment to increase the likelihood for communication

      Identify communication opportunities within natural routines and activities


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