Dedicated AAC Devices

Although today mainstream products can often be used for alternative and augmentative communication (AAC), there are still some devices that only perform AAC functions. In many cases, insurance companies prefer to fund these dedicated devices instead of mainstream products, in the belief that recipients are less likely to resell them instead of using them. The devices may also have unique features that make them more appropriate for some users. This article is a list of currently available dedicated devices and their features. 


The DynaVox DynaWrite is a keyboard-based communicator designed for use by individuals with significant speech disabilities who have strong literacy skills, motor control and dexterity and like the familiarity of a computer keyboard. This device enables users to type messages on the full-sized computer keyboard and have them spoken back. DECtalk and VeriVox voices are included. Rate enhancement features include word prediction, abbreviation expansion, and flexible abbreviation expansion. The device can be accessed via direct selection or single- or dual-switch scanning.

The DynaVox Tango is a direct selection or scanning communicator designed for use by children, teens and young adults with speech, language, and learning disabilities. Speech capabilities include the ability to record an adult voice and make it sound like a male or female child’s voice, as well as the ability to whisper, whine and shout messages. The device also provides the ability to move between nearly 2,500 fully- customizable phrases to precise word selection or spelling keyboards for more specific communication. "Phrase first” organization features streams of phrases, words, and core vocabulary, enabling individuals to move freely between communication strategies. A pop-up keyboard and key phrase bank are always available, enabling users to spell or say what they need and then return to where they were. The built-in camera and flash enable users to create and store up to 30 photo albums and record a phrase to accompany each photo. The device can be accessed via direct selection, one-switch scanning, dual-switch scanning and auditory scanning.

Prentke Romich

SpringBoard Lite has a 4-, 8-, 15-, or 36-location display with direct selection, single- or dual-switch scanning, or joystick access, and includes five integrated versions of pre-stored vocabulary with an emphasis on core words that power most speech. Other features include a built-in carrying handle; built-in language learning and speech therapy activities; clear keyguards to aid direct selection; media player; flash memory and Secure Digital card slots; USB and serial ports; pre-loaded male and female recorded voices; enough memory for over 500 minutes of digitized speech; and 3,000 icons. A bilingual Spanish/English version is also availailable.

The Essence VG is a handheld direct selection and scanning communicator. It has a 12.1-inch SVGA touchscreen. In addition to the touchscreen, the user can interface with the Essence VG using the on-screen keyboard; single- or dual-switch scanning (switch not included); or a USB-connected keyboard, mouse, joystick, headpointing system or mouse emulation system. It features a built-in player that will import WAV files and play MP3/WMA files in stereo; integrated Bluetooth capability; language activity monitor software; PRC Application and Support Software (PASS); integrated headpointing system utilizes Madentec's Tracker technology; multiple voice options; notebook capability for creating text; and over 1 hour of digitized speech memory. It also supports importation of icons or digital photos. The Essence VT is similar, but has an 8.4-inch screen.


Say-it! SAM Communicator is a palm-sized symbolic and text-based direct selection communicator with both a dynamic display graphical interface and a keyboard interface. Speech output is provided by DECtalk speech synthesis with nine different voices (four male, four female, and one child’s voice). The device supports five different button actions and unlimited page links so the user can build complex sentence structures. The user can record voice messages or import symbols, photos, and voice files to link to buttons. Layouts and pages can be imported and exported from another device or an offline personal computer (PC). A PC version of the device software is included to allow pages to be created and managed offline. The device has a customizable dictionary, with abbreviation, pronunciation, and phrase lists; word completion, word prediction, and phrase prediction, with the ability to learn the user's vocabulary. Text can be magnified to full screen to allow for silent communication.
This product information has been adapted from information provided by AbleData, an assistive technology information service provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Neither the Department nor ICF Macro, which operates AbleData, has examined, reviewed, or tested any product, device, or resource contained in AbleData or referred to in this Fact Sheet. The Department and ICF Macro make no endorsement, representation, or warranty express or implied as to any product, device, or other information set forth in AbleData. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Department, NIDRR, or ICF Macro.

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