The Bridge School

Communicative Competence


Successful outcomes of AAC interventions “are defined through the results that communication brings: participation, academic success, friendships, self-esteem, employment and a person taking on preferred social roles using appropriate AAC tools, techniques, strategies, and technologies” (Blackstone and Wilkins 2009).

At The Bridge School, communicative competence skills are taught in the context of ongoing classroom instruction. AAC systems are designed with a range of tools and techniques to address student communication and learning goals. Interventions are infused within curricular activities so that students are learning and using different AAC tools and strategies throughout the day, while they are learning core academic content. Additionally, we have enhanced some specific curricular activities so that communicative competence goals can be addressed more directly at these times.

At the core of all intervention practices and procedures at The Bridge School are evidence-based interaction strategies. All members of the educational team use these strategies to help facilitate communicative competence skill development for our students. Research has shown that comprehensive partner training with all communication partners in the students’ day, particularly instructional assistants who spend the majority of time interacting with students at school, leads to best learning outcomes (Binger, Kent-Walsh, and Ewing 2010; Kent-Walsh and McNaughton 2005).

In this section you will find more information about interaction strategies, school-based interventions to promote communicative competence, and guiding principles for AAC system development.


Beukelman, D. and Mirenda, P. (2013). Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Supporting children & adults with complex communication needs. Fourth Ed. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Binger,C., Kent-Walsh, J., & Ewing, C. (2010). Teaching educational assistants to facilitate the multisymbol message productions of young students who require augmentative and alternative communication. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 19, 108–120.

Blackstone, S. and Wilkins, D. (2009). Exploring the importance of emotional competence in children with complex communication needs. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 18, pp78-87.

Kent-Walsh, J., & McNaughton, D. (2005). Communication partner instruction in AAC: Present practices and future directions. Augmentative and Alternative Communication 21(3), 195-204).