There are few published surveys that are designed specifically to describe the total population of clients with communication disorders who might potentially benefit from the use of a communication aid. Such data, however, would be useful in planning the funding and staffing of rehabilitation services in a region. Figures are also needed to identify populations whose needs are currently not being met and thus to establish areas of future developments both for service and research purposes. The survey reported here was carried out as part of a project concerned with the provision of augmentative communication to the neurologically impaired child and young adult. It was intended to produce a broad description of the communication-impaired population in Tayside. The survey was then used to identify detailed information about clients who may benefit from using a communication aid, and it also highlighted some provision and research issues. Access to communication aids for the non-speaking population was found to have been restricted by lack of funding, resources and opportunities for training for therapists in the use of augmentative and alternative communication. Future research and development should particularly address the needs of the aphasic population whose needs were not found to be met by currently available communication aids.