Research

The overall mission of the Penn State AAC research program is to foster communicative competence, enhance participation, and improve the quality of life for individuals with complex communication needs and their families. Consumers who require AAC and their families are actively involved in all of our research projects.

Our research considers issues for individuals with complex communication needs across the life span. Current projects focus onstudent and teacher

  • Improving language and communication outcomes for young children with complex communication needs
  • Enhancing outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorders who have limited speech
  • Improving the design of AAC systems /apps to better meet the needs and skills of individuals with complex communication needs
  • Improving literacy outcomes for individuals with complex communication needs
  • Supporting successful transitions for adolescents and young adults with complex communication needs

The research program at Penn State has had more than 18 years of continuous external funding support, including more than 40 externally funded grants, totaling more than $16 million. We are grateful for the funding support that we have received from

  • The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
  • The National Institutes of Health
  • The U.S. Department of Education
  • The Hintz Family Endowment for Children’s Communicative Competence.

The RERC on AAC is a collaborative center that includes the Pennsylvania State University, Oregon Health & Science University, Invotek, Inc., Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Northeastern University, and Saltillo, Inc.  with the goal that the AAC technologies and knowledge generated will enable individuals with complex communication needs to achieve the basic human right of communication, and to maximize their participation in education, employment, health and community activities.

The Penn State AAC community is committed to supporting the successful translation of our research to evidence-based practice to improve the everyday lives of individuals with complex communication needs and their families. With this goal in mind, we are actively involved in a wide range of dissemination and training activities

  • More than 180 publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • More than 500 presentations at state, national, and international conferences
  • User-friendly, accessible websites summarizing evidence-based interventions for individuals with complex communication needs
    • Early intervention for young children with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other disabilities
    • Literacy instruction for individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other disabilities
  • A series of webcasts focused on
    • An introduction to AAC
    • Early intervention to maximize language development for young children
    • Intervention to maximize the literacy skills of individuals who require AAC
    • Literacy instruction for individuals with autism spectrum disorders who have limited speech
    • Employment for individuals who require AAC
    • AAC and college life
    • Seating and positioning for individuals who require AAC

 

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