Partner Instruction in AAC: Strategies for Building Circles of Support


Laura J. Ball, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an associate professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders at East Carolina University. Ball completed her PhD at the University of Nebraska, where her research interests focused on AAC and motor speech disorders. Ball has more than 25 years of experience working with AAC and persons with severe communication impairments. She is the author of numerous publications on topics related to AAC, dysarthria, and apraxia.

Andrea Barton-Hulsey, MA, CCC-SLP, is coordinator for the Augmented Language Intervention Research Project in the communication department at Georgia State University, Atlanta. She has clinical and research experience working with children with developmental disabilities. She has presented her work both nationally and internationally and has publications on AAC. She focuses her work on providing AAC services and supports to facilitate communication development in children.

David Beukelman, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the Barkley Professor of communication disorders at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, a senior researcher at the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, and a research partner in the Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center for Communication Enhancement. He is co-editor of the AAC book series by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company. Beukelman specializes in the areas of augmentative communication and motor speech disorders of children and adults.

Cathy Binger, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an associate professor at the University of New Mexico who specializes in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). She has been an SLP for 19 years and has expertise in building functional communication skills with children who use AAC. Binger is an active researcher who focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of intervention programs that are designed to enhance the language skills of children who use AAC. Her work also focuses on developing partner instruction programs to teach educators and families how to communicate more effectively with children who use AAC. In addition to her research, Binger teaches graduate level courses in AAC at the University of New Mexico and serves as a consultant for the Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources Center. Binger has co-authored two books and one book chapter on AAC, and has published numerous research articles in both peer-reviewed journals and clinician-oriented newsletters.

Nancy Brady, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a clinician, researcher, and teacher working for more than 20 years in the areas of severe disabilities and autism. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and Autism Speaks. She has published extensively in the areas of assessment and treatment of communication disorders in individuals with intellectual disabilities, including deaf blind children and children with Fragile X Syndrome. Dr. Brady has been measuring the impact of partner behaviors including partner responsivity on communication development for three concurrent longitudinal studies. She has completed two studies on teaching parents to increase responsivity through a coaching model.

David Chapple, BS, is an expert user of AAC technologies and serves as editor for AAC ConsumerNet. In 1994, he graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelor's in business administration (computer and information science), with a minor in communications. In 1996, he became and an ambassador for the Prentke Romich Company, and became a remote troubleshooter and software analyst in 2000.

Lynn E. Fox, PhD, CCC-SLP, is professor emerita in the department of speech and hearing sciences at Portland State University, and is a research associate at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She has taught and conducted research focusing on adults with acquired communication disorders for more than 25 years. Her research has emphasized the interplay between psychosocial factors and intervention outcomes, including AAC outcomes. Fox has published and presented extensively on these topics. Currently, she collaborates with colleagues in the couple and family therapy field to teach seminars and courses that use family-based counseling techniques with communicative disorders.

Jennifer Kent-Walsh, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an associate professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Central Florida (UCF). In addition to conducting research and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and language disorders, Kent-Walsh is the director of the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST), Atlantic Region Assistive Technology Demonstration Center, at UCF. Kent-Walsh and her collaborators research developing and evaluating interventions designed to improve language and communication outcomes for children with developmental disabilities who use AAC. Kent-Walsh also teaches service-learning courses and conducts research to evaluate outcomes of service-learning in higher education. She has co-authored two books and one book chapter on AAC, and has published numerous research articles in both peer-reviewed journals and clinician-oriented publications.

Ann P. Kaiser, PhD, is the Susan W. Gray Professor of Education and Human Development at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. She received her PhD and completed post-doctoral training at the University of Kansas. Kaiser's research focuses on early language interventions for children with developmental disabilities and children at risk due to poverty. She has developed and researched an early communication program (KidTalk/Enhanced Milieu Teaching) designed to improve the language outcomes for young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, children with autism, and children at risk due to behavior problems. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Education, and Autism Speaks. She is the author of more than 150 articles and chapters related to early intervention.

Joanne P. Lasker, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an associate professor in the school of communication science and disorders at Florida State University. She has published numerous papers and chapters related to assessment and treatment of adults living with acquired neurogenic communication disorders who may benefit from AAC techniques, in particular people living with aphasia. Her research has explored issues pertaining to AAC assessment protocols, context-based intervention practices, partner training, motor learning guided treatment, and the acceptance of AAC approaches by adults with severe communication disorders and their communication partners. She has presented internationally and nationally on these topics. In collaboration with Dr. Kathryn L. Garrett, Lasker created the Multimodal Communication Screening Test for People with Aphasia (MCST-A), an online assessment tool designed for people with aphasia who may be suitable for AAC intervention. She has received funding to investigate a treatment technique combining speech generating devices and speech practice for adults with apraxia of speech. She has extensive experience presenting and teaching in the areas of acquired neurological disorders and AAC—both in face-to-face conferences and in electronic presentation formats.

David McNaughton, PhD, is a professor in the department of educational and school psychology and special education and department of communication sciences and disorders at Pennsylvania State University. He teaches classes on assistive technology and collaboration skills. His current research interests include developing vocational opportunities for individuals with severe disabilities, and literacy instruction for children with complex communication needs. McNaughton is a partner with the current RERC on Communication Enhancement, and has published more than 30 AAC-related articles. He received ISAAC's Editor's Award and the Outstanding Dissertation Research Award from the Council for Learning Disabilities.

Billy T. Ogletree, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a professor and head of the department of communication sciences and disorders at Western Carolina University. During his 30-year career, Ogletree has worked as an SLP in schools, a residential facility for persons with intellectual disabilities, a pediatric developmental/medical center, and university clinics. His research interests include recommended communication practices for persons with severe developmental disabilities including autism. Ogletree has authored more than 50 publications and received more than $2 million in extramural grant support. He is an ASHA Fellow and chairs and serves as an ASHA representative for the National Joint Committee for the Communicative Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities. Ogletree also chairs the AAC strand committee for ASHA's 2012 conference.

MaryAnn Romski, PhD, CCC-SLP, is Regents Professor of communication, psychology, and educational psychology and special education at Georgia State University, Atlanta, and director of the Center for Research on Atypical Development and Learning. Romski is a Fellow of ASHA, the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. She is an SLP with more than 30 years of clinical experience. Her research program, funded through the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and the Institue of Education Sciences, focuses on the communication development of children with developmental disorders who do not speak. She is especially interested in developing and evaluating computerized communication interventions to augment oral language learning for children with developmental disorders. Romski has published three books and more than 100 articles and chapters, and has given numerous national and international presentations.

Philip Schweigert, MEd, works as an early communication consultant and instructional lead for the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Previously, he served as project coordinator on a number of federally funded research efforts, investigating strategies for enhancing the communication and concept skills of learners with multiple and severe disabilities including deaf-blindness and autism. Schweigert has authored and co-authored articles for refereed journals as well as curriculum materials in the area of communication and concept skill development for the Design to Learn Program. In addition to his research and writing, he is an affiliate faculty member at New Mexico State University, where he teaches courses on children with multiple disabilities as well as providing technical assistance, consultation, and training around the country. Schweigert began teaching children with multiple disabilities in 1977 in the Portland, Oregon public schools.

Rose A. Sevcik, PhD, is professor of psychology, co-director of Research on Challenges to Acquiring Language and Literacy Area of Focus, and chair of the developmental psychology doctoral program at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Her research is focused on the language, literacy, and communication development of children and youth with significant developmental disabilities. Sevcik has an extensive publication record and has given numerous presentations to national and international audiences. She is a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and past-president of its communication disorders division. Sevcik is a former coordinator for ASHA's Special Interest Group 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and has served as the associate editor for language for Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research and Augmentative and Alternative Communication. An ASHA Fellow, Sevcik has served as an editorial consultant for Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools.

Gloria Soto, PhD, is a professor of special education in the department of special education and communicative disorders at San Francisco State University. She has more than 20 years of experience providing AAC services to children. Her areas of research interest relate to language development for children who use AAC, curriculum-based AAC intervention, narrative language supports for AAC users and culturally relevant intervention. She has a strong record of publications and presentations at the national and international level.

Kathy Thiemann-Bourque, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant research professor at the Juniper Gardens Children's Project at the University of Kansas. She has received and collaborated on many state and federal grants focusing on effective strategies to improve peer interactions and social communication skills of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She has extensive clinical experience working with children with autism and other developmental delays and disorders. Thiemann-Bourque's research focuses on developing effective peer-mediated social intervention strategies for students with ASD, specifically enhancing social communication in natural school settings. Most recently, she investigated training peers to use augmentative communication systems (e.g., PECS, SGDs) when interacting with nonverbal preschoolers with autism. Thiemann-Bourque is also co-principal investigator on a project that follows the communication development of more than 85 nonverbal or minimally verbal preschoolers learning to use a form of AAC. She is interested in examining the assessment of children's play skills and how play-development relates to later language and social outcomes.

Amber Thiessen, MS, CCC-SLP, is a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Her research interests include alternative and augmentative communication and traumatic brain injury. Thiessen received her bachelor's degree in 2005 from the University of North Dakota, in communication sciences and disorders. In 2007, she completed her master's degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Prior to returning to school, Thiessen worked as a SLP at a rehabilitation facility for individuals with acquired brain injury.

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