Devices Offering Great Solutions (DOGS)

Communication Boards and Books

Use pictures or words on paper to talk.

What does it do?

When people think about augmentative communication, they often picture an iPad or other high tech device. We can use light tech AAC to give someone access to communication. High tech isn’t better than light tech. It depends on the needs of the person! Communication boards and books can be set up with high frequency words to provide access to language. These can be used as a primary system or as a backup to high tech. Some types of communication boards and books may be customized for an individual communicator, or may be used as a classroom communication system.

Core boards and books do not speak. The communicator needs to point to or look at the symbol they want. This means that the communication partner must be paying attention in order to receive the message. These communication systems typically use picture symbols, but can also include photos or written words. It depends on the needs of the user. You can also create a communication board while you are in the midst of  funding a high tech device. The symbols and layout should match the high tech system so that the communicator can build skills while waiting for their voice!

You can always create your own core boards and books. Symbol sets, such as Lessonpix, The Noun Project, or Boardmaker are available online. You could even use Google Images. Be sure to check for the image rights. When you set up a core board, make sure that the icons stay in the same location. Learning to use AAC is a lot like learning to type. Make it consistent so that the user can gain skills.

What kinds of communication boards and books are there?

  • Core boards
  • Medical communication boards
  • Flip communication books
  • Activity-based communication boards
  • About Me communication books
  • Communication key rings
  • Playground Core Boards
  • Classroom Core Boards
  • Partner-Assisted Scanning systems (such as PODD)

Related Apps

Any AAC app can become a communication board or book. You can always take a screenshot or photo of the home screen of the app. Many companies also provide free printable core boards that match their apps. You can find out more here:

One type of system is called PODD; Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display. Assistiveware’s SimPODD AAC app can be used to export and print a PODD book.

7 by 9 array of core communication symbols color coded by part of speech.

How do I see what's new?

Technology changes all the time. To find out about the latest options for these, you can type keywords into a search engine such as Google, Safari, Firefox, or Bing on a computer or tablet. These are the keywords for this type of item:

core boards, communication books, low tech AAC, communication flip book

How do I find out more?

If you live in the US outside of Pennsylvania you would need to find your state's AT program.

If you live in Pennsylvania:

  • you could contact TechOWL to work with a specialist. We can meet with you and sometimes demonstrate this equipment. We can also help with different ways to get one for your own.
  • you might borrow this equipment to try out. Do we have this in our lending library?


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Kathryn Helland

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