Our AAC community has been honored to have a number special guests come this Spring 2016. The group welcomed the opportunity to learn more about the research and perspectives of Michael Clarke and Gloria Soto as they hosted Colloquium (March 14th); and Amy Goldman (March 17th), at her recent visit to Penn State.
Dr. Clarke, Senior Lecturer at the University College London, shared his work related to Looking, Seeing and Communicating. Crystal Bluto, who is currently participating within the PSU Masters program, commented on how Dr. Clarke’s research related to functional vision, “helped me think in new ways about this sense and its importance for individuals who require AAC.”
Dr. Soto, Professor in the Department of Special Education at San Francisco University, spoke about her current NIH grant to evaluate the effects of a discourse-based intervention to teach syntax to children with complex communication needs. Her discussion resonated strongly for doctoral scholar, Julia Birmingham, especially with respect to AAC interventions which include diverse and personally meaningful vocabulary. Julia noted, “Dr. Soto provided children with CCN opportunities and supports to tell stories about personal photographs, video games, and even monster trucks. I learned a lot from her visit to Penn State, and I am looking forward to reading more about narrative development.”
Master’s student Hannah Young expressed her gratitude, saying: “It is wonderful to be connected to research aimed to improve the lives of individuals with complex communication needs happening all throughout the country and even internationally.”
Ms. Goldman, Co-Executive Director with the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, spoke passionately about the role of advocacy across individual and systems-level change. She also shared numerous resources in support of navigating funding complexities with a range of AT/AAC, and insight into making connections throughout the AAC field.
Christine Holyfield, who is working towards her PhD, summarized her thoughts on the experiences across the week: “Having AAC experts visit from far away is a huge privilege. They are working toward the same goal as our Penn State AAC community, but through different avenues and with different backgrounds. When our perspectives come together, they become more complete.”