Non-electronic communication aids provide one form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for people with complex communication needs. The aim here was to explore non-electronic communication aids as one AAC option and research challenges. This aim was addressed by reviewing funding for the provision of AAC systems, data from an Australian pilot project providing non-electronic communication aids, an audit of aided AAC published studies (2000-2009), and discussion of the review literature. Combined, these sources indicate that although there is great demand for non-electronic communication aids, funding schemes, both in Australia and internationally, have focused on electronic communication aids. Such funding has usually failed to meet the total device costs and has not provided for adequate speech-language pathology support. Data from the pilot indicated the demand for non-electronic communication aids, and patterns suggest potential factors that govern the types selected. Despite the high demand for non-electronic aids, the research literature has tended to focus on electronic communication aids, including within intervention studies and addressing design features and long-term outcomes. Concerns about ensuring that AAC systems are chosen according to the assessed needs of individuals are discussed within the context of limitations in outcomes research and appropriate outcome measures.